PEORIA, AZ — Walking the Sunrise Mountain High School campus, it’s easy to see School Resource Officer Beth Griffin's profile is on the rise.
“Hi Hunter, hey do you want to sing buddy, it’s [ABC15], this could be your chance,” said Officer Griffin, joking with a student while walking to the auditorium.
She knows the students by name, and they certainly know hers. Especially after her latest performance in a recent high school musical.
“She showed up at our first rehearsal, our first dance rehearsal and I was like why is Officer Griffin here, is someone in trouble, and then everyone's like no she’s joining the show, she’s going to dance with us, and I was shocked,” said high school junior Kenzie Prazak.
Prior to her participation, most students seemed to be a bit intimidated by the officer tasked to keeping order on campus.
“I never knew Officer Griffin before, she would come up to my lunch table sometimes and she would say stuff and I was like, oh my gosh there’s a police officer at my table,” said high school junior Morgan Roberts.
Breaking down those barriers with students isn’t easy, but the 15-year veteran with Peoria police grew up dancing and performing in high school as well.
Officer Griffin jumped at the opportunity to participate in the school's musical production of Newsies.
"It was an awesome opportunity to just embrace the school and have a positive interaction with so many kids,” said Griffin.
The former dance teacher helped with choreography and technique, which blew the cast away from the start.
“It was really fun to hear her talk about all the different dance terminology because it’s not something you would expect to hear from her,” said high school junior Corrine Seaver.
“She’s an amazing dancer, it’s so cool," said Morgan Roberts.
She also made sure to get people to attend, constantly promoting the show around campus or to anyone else who would listen.
“She would go up to people and be like, you should come see the show, and we didn’t have that exposure before,” said Morgan Roberts.
It also exposed students to a different side of law enforcement. All the fun and laughter experienced together on stage and at rehearsals, forming a friendship of trust.
“Knowing that I’m putting these kids out into the community and getting voices that speak positive about law enforcement and what we’re really about and why we’re here, it’s huge, the ripple effect of that could last for decades,” said Griffin.
Based on the conversations with students, it’s working.
“You can tell she just really cares about us, cares about students,” said high school junior Samantha Johns.
“Now that I know Officer Griffin is here for anyone and I know she’s very trustworthy, I could tell Officer Griffin anything, and I know I would have a safe space,” said Morgan Roberts.