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It's a Living

Student Resource Officer always wanted to give back


I could never be a police officer for many reasons. Too old, too short, too devoted to a sedentary lifestyle—I could go on. But most of all, I’d just be too scared to run toward gunfire while everyone else was running away. Which is why I am amazed to know there are people who voluntarily do this kind of thing, and then wake up every morning knowing they might be called on to die that day to protect others.

Officer Christopher Shaffer says he always wanted to be a police officer. He grew up hearing the stories both his maternal and paternal grandfathers told. One grandfather worked for the Philadelphia Police Department. The other was a motorcycle officer in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

Chris remembers growing up in Philadelphia playing sports for the Police Athletic League and seeing how police officers dedicated their time to teaching and coaching teams.

“One thing I always wanted to do,” he says, “was to give back to the community once I became a police officer.”

In college, Chris worked in the restaurant industry. He also coached high school basketball for seven years and got used to establishing rapport with young people, a skill that would serve him well later.

Chris graduated from Temple Ambler Police Academy in 2022 as class Sergeant, and Buckingham Township Police Department offered him a job right before he finished at the Academy.

Chris started as a patrol officer, responding to 911 calls, patrolling the streets, conducting traffic stops, and checking in on local businesses throughout the jurisdiction.

Soon after, he became the Student Resource Officer (SRO) for Central Bucks School District, which included Central Bucks East High School, Holicong Middle School, and Buckingham and Cold Spring Elementary schools.

“A student resource officer responds to calls, documents incidents that occur within the school, and strives to employ non-punitive techniques when interacting with at-risk students,” according to Kevin Spencer, the school district’s director of operations.

“In addition to their law enforcement responsibilities, the SRO participates in educational programming and emergency management planning, mentors students and teachers, works cooperatively with the administration and staff to develop and employ safety measures and procedures, and makes positive connections with students, administration, faculty and staff. The officer’s presence also provides a visual reminder of safety in the school.”

I asked Chris how working with elementary school students differs from middle and high schoolers. “The elementary school kids like to ask a lot of questions about police work. The middle and high school students have more in-depth questions about life scenarios. I try to help the high school students prepare for the next step, whether they’re asking college or real-world questions.”

Chris admits when it comes to mentoring, “It definitely takes a while to gain a student’s trust. You really have to dedicate time to get to know who they are and try to find something in common with them.”

He says that while he acknowledges it’s impossible to know every single student, he tries his best to ensure “they know who I am and where to find me if they need me.”

“There are days when a kid might need someone to vent to about something and they trust me enough to be that person to speak with.”

I asked Chris about his off-duty hours. “My favorite thing to do is to spend as much time with my family as possible.” By the end of the year, Chris and his wife, Briana, will be mom and dad to twin girls. “My wife and I are foster parents, and we are in the process of adopting our girls.”

I repeated the question I began with. Where does he find the courage to run toward trouble when everyone else is running in the other direction? “My courage comes from the training I received at the academy and from the training I continue to receive. I know my main job is the safety of everyone inside our schools.”

I don’t think that’s completely true. I think his courage comes from his heart.

"It's a Living" is a weekly column showcasing residents who are making a living in an interesting way, or people who’ve reinvented their careers because they could no longer ignore the voice in the back of their heads telling them to start over, take a risk, chase a dream or set out on their own.

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