Evan Hull was a defensive lineman on the Oregon State University football team when he got to know the law enforcement officers who served as liaisons to the program.
At the time, Hull was majoring in speech communication and wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue. Several factors of law enforcement attracted him: the variety of work he could do, the problem-solving involved and the opportunity to help others.
Hull, now 30, graduated from Lebanon’s East Linn Christian Academy in 2006 and OSU in 2010. He joined the Corvallis Police Department four years ago and has served as a patrol officer. Last year, the department’s longtime school resource officer, Karin Stauder, announced she was retiring and Hull was chosen to move into that role. Hull took over the position last week after several weeks of shadowing Stauder.
“In the school resource officer position, there’s the opportunity to have a positive impact on young peoples’ lives,” Hull said. “Being able to meet those people at a time in their life with they’re deciding who they want to be I think is kind of neat.”
Hull is primarily assigned to Corvallis High School, College Hill High School, Linus Pauling Middle School and Cheldelin Middle School, though he visits elementary schools when needed.
As the department’s sole school resource officer, Hull will attend meetings with school administrators to discuss issues involving students, present to classes on topics such as opioid addiction and respond to calls involving student conduct and criminal activity.
Above all, he’s working to build rapport with students.
“They might have already had a bad encounter with police, whether that’s seeing their folks getting arrested or their friends getting arrested or they were arrested,” Hull said. “So they kind of have this idea that police only respond to arrest people or something. I can kind of personalize with them in the sense that we’re people too and we care about your development as a person into young adulthood.”
Right now, Hull is working to get to know students and build relationships with them, so they’ll feel comfortable reaching out to him to report problems.
Hull said he was at Cheldelin Middle School a couple of weeks ago and saw a group of students with playing cards. One of the kids showed him a magic trick, breaking the ice. Hull offered advice to a group of high school students the other day on how to apply for part-time jobs.
“I want to build rapport so if they have something they want to talk with me about or need advice on from a professional standpoint, they can ask me those questions,” he said.
Hull was a three-sport prep standout in Linn County, competing in basketball and track at ELCA while playing football for West Albany. He was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, earning all-Valley League honors on the offensive and defensive lines as a senior.
The 6-foot-4 Hull played one season of football at Linfield before transferring to OSU.
Having an athletic background also allows Hull to relate well to student athletes, he said.
Hull said every student’s situation is different and he enjoys finding creative ways to tackle problems. On Thursday, a middle school student he had talked with previously hadn’t shown up to school by 11 a.m. He went to the boy’s house and knocked on the front door. The kid stuck his head out of a window and told the officer, “I’m going! I’m going!” Hull said he laughed in response. He just hoped he offered the student some encouragement to go to school.
Hull’s schedule also includes attending student support team meetings with school administrators, behavior specialists, juvenile department officials and others. The team discusses issues involving students, such as a 12-year-old who has gotten into trouble for shoplifting, and considers the circumstances in order to come up with solutions. Perhaps the school learns the student was shoplifting food because the child isn’t getting enough to eat at home, Hull said. The school could then provide food to the student’s family, he said. Other issues might be tackled by providing mental health counseling to a student or brainstorming a different education plan.
“All the resources are present so we can work collaboratively to come up with a solution that is in the best interest of the student,” Hull said.
He said working with kids provides a greater range of opportunities for meaningful intervention. When responding to an issue involving an adult, the result is usually to charge them criminally, Hull said. With students, there are more options.
“If we can make a positive change in those kids’ lives, then I think that’s awesome,” he said.
Hull has also talked to high school health classes about sexual consent and the laws regarding age of consent.
He hopes to pursue more law enforcement training that could help him in his role, such as understanding the drug scene, how to recognize when a child is being abused, suicide prevention and gangs in schools. Hull is planning to attend a conference for school resource officers this summer.
“I think that finding those positive interactions and those opportunities where you can help people is just gold in this job,” he said. “I think that those are fewer and far between in certain areas of this career, but I think that as school resource officer, I think you’ll find those gold nuggets because everyone is so unique and just a lot of times excited to see you and excited to share their life with you.”