Tags: Geneva Linn
June 03, 2014 | 03:16 PMLINN — James Bushey was surprised that someone wrote a letter praising him. “I didn’t think I did anything different than I’d normally do,” he said.
The town police sergeant and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) coordinator was recognized at the regular May town board meeting, where the letter was read.
Recently, he handled a case in which a child refused to board the bus to go to school. The case was forwarded to Walworth County Health and Human Services.
“Sgt. Bushey went above and beyond for this child, and in turn, this made it easier for our staff to engage with this child and his family for services,” wrote Bridget Lee, of Health and Human Services, in the letter to Linn Police Chief Mark Cates which was read at the board meeting. “I cannot say enough about Sgt. Bushey and his dedication to his work and helping others.”
Bushey said it’s the first time someone wrote a letter like this about him.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the work that goes on behind the scenes.”
One person who does is Cates.
He said what Bushey does for the children is a natural talent, and he considers him very valuable to his department.
“It’s not just a job for him,” said Cates. “He puts a lot into it, and it takes a certain person to do what he does.”
It began around the fall of 2008, when he completed 80 hours of training at Fort McCoy in Tomah, to bring back the DARE program.
After Walworth County cut funding for DARE around 2006, Bushey secured private funding for the return of DARE in early 2009 — first at Woods and Traver schools.
In a Feb. 18, 2009, Regional News article, Bushey said he wanted to “break down that barrier” between police officers and the public. “We’re there to serve the community. We don’t just show up when someone’s in trouble.”
DARE became a success, and it led to Bushey becoming more involved in the three schools. He calls himself an unofficial school resource officer for Reek, Traver and Woods schools.
“When I started DARE, it went hand-in-hand,” said Bushey of his unofficial role. “But I’m not dedicated to one school all day. I breeze around the schools throughout my shifts.”
He said at first, people used to wonder why a squad car would be parked at their children’s schools. Now, they wonder why it’s not there, said Bushey.
It’s not just DARE that brings him to the halls.
Bushey speaks to classrooms about different subjects, ranging from town government to safety tips.
“They did a service dog week at Reek, so I brought in the Walworth County K9 Unit to do a demonstration for them.”
His unofficial role also leads him to become involved in cases such as the one which prompted Lee’s letter.
“I was called out to assist with trying to encourage this child to go to school.”
Bushey believes he was able to build a rapport with the child through programs like DARE and by frequenting the schools. “They see me on a daily basis,” he said of the children. “That way, they get to know me before a problem arises.”
He thinks this helped in dealing with the child.
“Not to say it’s going to be that way in all situations, but in this situation, they had the opportunity to get to know me.”
Bushey said he approaches situations like this by just trying to ask children and their parents questions, to determine where the problems are coming from.
Although he usually mentions that not going to school could lead to trouble, he tries to focus on the positive aspects of school. Bushey talks to children about the importance of education, how it can help one find a career later in life.
“It’s, more or less, trying to sit down and talk to them one-on-one,” he said, “only with a softer approach. If they say they don’t want to go to school, it may not necessarily be a problem at school. It might be something else in their lives.”
Cates said Bushey “has a knack for it.” Lee said Bushey was “so very compassionate towards this child.”
How does someone like Bushey develop that knack, that compassion?
By being a parent.
“There’s a reason all police officers get into this job and I believe … that purpose is to help people. But, as a parent, when you see a child in trouble, you wonder, ‘What if that was your child?’”