From the Air Force to the River City

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Courtesy Photo Post Falls School Resource Officer Annette Clark

Good things come in small packages.

Post Falls School Resource Officer Annette Clark has probably had this thought a few times.

"On a good day with my work boots on, Iím 5-foot-1-inch, but everyone else says Iím 5 foot exactly!" the good-natured Clark said.

"It's no secret I'm short, like, shorter than most fourth-graders," she said.

One of her favorite work stories involves her height. And a lockout.

"It was actually in the front of River City Middle School. A lady had locked her keys in her (really tall) van and the windows were cracked slightly," Clark said. "It should be noted, there were infants in the van, so I had to do what I had to do to get the van unlocked. I attempted to unlock the van with what we call a 'lockout kit,' but I couldnít reach. I entered the school, borrowed a chair, placed it on the curb side and unlocked the vehicle, with no issues."

Clark was hired as a police officer in December of 2014. She graduated from the North Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy in April 2015 and attended POST in Post Falls through the North Idaho Basic Patrol Academy.

"I entered law enforcement because I wanted to be a part of making a difference," Clark said. "I know that is probably what everyone says when they are asked, but thatís my honest answer."

Prior to entering law enforcement, Clark served eight years in the United States Air Force and once she separated from active duty, she became a communications officer (911 dispatcher).

"I loved that job, but still didnít feel content with the career choice," she said. "After several ride-alongs with police officers, I felt like being a police officer was exactly where I needed to be."

But it was the SRO position that really spoke to her.

"I felt if I could be a mentor and make a difference in at least one kidís life, I could help make a difference in our local community; which is exactly why I joined law enforcement," she said. "I am very passionate about the kids in our community and want the best for all of them."

As River City Middle School's SRO, Clark loves interacting with the students.

"The best part of being a school resource officer is definitely getting to see and interact firsthand with the kids throughout the entire school day," she said. "If Iím away for any amount of time, itís a good feeling to be welcomed back by the students. Most of them welcome me back with hugs and high fives and have told me how happy they are I wasnít reassigned somewhere else or fired."

Two days rise to the top as far as her best experiences working as an SRO.

"I arrived at River City Middle one morning and had school staff telling me I had to go check out one of the female studentís outfits ó I was nervous of what I would find," she said. "It was spirit week and the student had chosen to dress up as me, in a police officer costume. She told me she looked up to me and wished to be a police officer someday."

Her second-best day was participating in the school's Kindness Challenge where students raised $3,000 and donated it to Make-A-Wish Idaho.

"I was so proud of them all," Clark said.

This adoration for the kids she serves and protects can also make the job hard. The worst days are when she has to make the decision to shelter children from their home and take them away from their parents. Discipline is also a tough one.

"Iíd say the worst thing about my job is criminally charging a student for their actions," she shared. "No matter how much you want to help them out, there isnít always an easy way around it. I actually get sad and sometimes disappointed when a student makes a poor choice that requires law enforcement action, however, I try to keep the interaction in these cases as positive as possible."

Although many police cases resurface in her mind, she said she doesn't have any from the job in particular that stay with her. She hasn't seen much action off duty, but she has called the communication center to request police attention when she saw something afoot. And she's heard her fair share of excuses from drivers she's pulled over.

"I canít recall the best excuse Iíve heard for speeding," she said. "However, the most heartbreaking was when I pulled someone over for speeding who had just been told they had cancer and were on their way to the doctorís office."

Off duty, Clark spends time with her family and at her kidsí sporting events. She also enjoys camping, fishing, traveling, shopping and hanging out with friends.

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