“Hey Michelle. How did you do on your test?” Community Outreach Officer Vanessa Losey says as she greets students walking between classes. “Hi ’mijo,’” — Spanish for son — “How are you doing?”
Though small in stature, Losey is known for her rapid walking pace, which, according to Sharpstown students, no one can keep up with. Every day, Losey can be found rushing between corridors and classrooms with four noisy radios in tow as she heads to her next post or assignment.
As a three-year HISD campus police officer, Losey currently works at the new Sharpstown High School, which is one of the most diverse schools in the district with more than 1,700 students and 19 different spoken languages.
“This school is very unique … there’s definitely a culture here,” Losey said. “My role here is to keep peace within the campus. In addition to reaching out to our students, I mentor, counsel, and support the school, principal, and all school programs.”
Soon, her work at Sharpstown will conclude and her efforts will be expanded districtwide.
A product of HISD schools, Losey was appointed to a new district role as a community outreach officer this past March. This new role is a part of the HISD Police Department’s initiative to develop strong relationships within the community by providing a bridge for open communication to share ideas and concerns, increase the understanding and support of the department’s mission, and build trust and collaboration between the district and the community.
“I’m so excited. There are so many ideas running through my head,” Losey said about her new role. “I will miss my students so much, but now I’ll be able to work with many different people from the Houston community and students all throughout HISD, and serve as that liaison between the two.”
Until she assumes her new post, Losey is focused on strengthening connections with the students she interacts with daily.
Beginning her mornings very early, Losey said she believes the early arrival is the gateway to develop officer-student relationships, learn about the school’s culture, and improve her community.
“I clock in at 6:30 in the morning, but I usually get here at six,” said Losey, who explained the extra half hour provides added security for the early risers. “It allows me to build rapport with my students.”
During her time as an HISD campus officer, Losey has learned that all students really need is to be heard by someone who will listen.
“Many times, we’re quick to correct a student, but we don’t take the time to actually hear them out,” Losey said. “I try to take time out of my day to spend those five minutes to find out what is really going on.”
With both a smile and teary eyes, Losey lowered the volume on her booming radio, took a deep breath, and smiled thinking about her new role with the police department.
“I know how important it is to have someone support, believe, and rejoice with you when you have achieved an accomplishment,” Losey said.
“I truly believe in this police department. I work with such phenomenal people and that is what I will express to all of Houston. We have an amazing and diverse police department, and I look forward to the positive impact we will continue to make in our community.”
Losey will begin her new role as community outreach officer this summer. This week, she is also one of 200 HISD officers being recognized for National Police Week, a week dedicated to honor the service of U.S. law enforcement officers nationwide.