Meet Eureka’s New SRO

Eureka High School recently welcomed the new School Resource Officer, Derek Ploeger. He is a 2007 Eureka graduate who is excited to be back in the halls of his alma mater. The Bugle sat down with Officer Ploeger and asked him the essential questions to allow EHS to get to know the new SRO.

What was your previous job before coming to EHS? 

“Before becoming an SRO I was a patrolman for the Eureka Police Department.” 

What made you switch from being a patrolman to an SRO? 

“I went to Eureka High School and really enjoyed my time here, and listening to Corporal Grittini talk about how much fun he had here I figured it’d be a nice change of scenery.” 

Where did you go for training? Academy? 

“For police training, I went to the Eastern Missouri Police Academy back in 2010, it was a different experience… a lot of work. I actually attended the academy with another former eureka high school graduate, Timothy Shipp who also works for the Eureka Police Dpt.” 

What are the basic responsibilities of being an SRO? What are you normally tasked with on a day-to-day basis? 

“The basic responsibilities of being an SRO is just the overall safety for the students and the faculty. Making sure it’s a safe environment. Also, I think that it gives law enforcement a way to communicate with the youth on a more personal level rather than the stuff you may see on the news to show that ‘hey we are human, we are approachable, we’re not robots you can come and talk to us.’” 

What’s your favorite part of the job? What’s the worst part of the job? 

“My favorite part of the job so far is getting to meet the students, meet the faculty, really see how things operate around here and also I enjoy running into some of the old teachers from when I went here. Least favorite part of the job? Two-hour lunch rotations aren’t fun.” 

How would you describe a typical day at Eureka High School? 

“On a typical day, I get to greet the students in the morning and wish everyone a good day. I walk around the campus, check the doors and make sure they are secured so no outside individuals who don’t belong can’t get in. I’ll check in with some of the teachers to see if everything’s going okay with them, followed by a two-hour lunch. If any member of the faculty has any questions for me then I’ll just speak with them then.” 

What’s life like outside of work? Wife? Kids? Pets?  

“I have a wife and we have twin boys, 7 months old… brand new babies. My wife is thrilled with my current schedule, the overall safety aspect is huge as opposed to working the road.”

What sports or clubs were you involved in before graduating from Eureka in 2007?

“When I went to Eureka I played football my freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. I did track my freshman year but other than that it was mainly football.”

Are you still a big football fan?

Oh yeah, Minnesota Vikings by far. I always get to talk to Coach Thebeau about all the latest Viking news.” 

What are you currently involved in outside of work?

“I golf when I have the time. When I have the time to make it to the gym, I go. Which obviously isn’t quite often. But just basic things, I like getting together with friends and doing things like that.” 

What’s your favorite place to eat around Eureka? 

“Oh, I think it’d be a felony to not say Poor Richards. Joe Boccardi’s is great, and I’m always about Camila’s.” 

When graduating from Eureka, did you know you wanted to work in the police force?

“I decided that I wanted to get into law enforcement at my sophomore year of high school. I actually joined the St. Louis County Police Explorers program, I joined that with Officer Shipp who also went to Eureka Highschool. So when we were going to high school here we would also do that in the meantime and it was a way to get to know law enforcement, we got to do ride alongs with agencies and it was community service-based too. We helped with a lot of community service events such as fairs.” 

What do movies get right or wrong about police work? What’s your favorite police movie?

“My favorite cop movie would probably be ‘End of Watch’. I feel like it does a really good job of showing the comradery between officers and their agency getting to know each other on a personal level. We handle a lot of very intense and stressful calls that can really take a toll emotionally on people, and to be able to lean on your fellow coworkers, you really feel like a family.” 

Are you guys actually big fans of donuts? Or is that just a stereotype? 

“No that’s a myth, just a stereotype. It’s funny you know, a lot of the guys will go to QuickTrip just to shoot the breeze in the morning, make our presence known there. But anyone who gets caught next to the donut line, I always feel like there’s going to be that one person who pulls their phone out to take a picture. One of the guys on my squad, he can eat whatever he wants, he’ll not gain a pound so he’ll be sitting there eating donuts and I’m like, ‘C’mon man you’re making us look bad!’”. 

What advice would you give to a student who is interested in becoming a police officer? 

“My advice is if you want to be a policeman first and foremost get a college education. Really study criminal justice. Law enforcement is a calling, it’s something that you need to also involve your parents in with the decision. It’s very serious, it’s a lot like going into the military. There’s a lot of risk to it, time’s are always changing and seeing how things are changing now I know it can be a lot harder to want to go into it. But I’d definitely get a college education, really spend some time, and really think about it before you ultimately make that decision.” 

Mr. Ploeger told us that the basic responsibilities of being an SRO included looking out for the safety of students and faculty, and making sure that the school is a secure environment. While passing by the guy in uniform every day at our school, try to remember that Mr. Ploeger is not just an SRO. Derek Ploeger is a husband, a father, a Viking’s Fan, and a very welcomed addition to Rockwood’s School District.