Protecting Students on Campus

Officer seen as 'Hombre de Hierro,' but really 'familia'
Posted on 05/17/2019
Officer Albert Lopez

Officer Albert Lopez is the police officer assigned to L.C. Swain Middle School. He started working at the school 15 years ago and has been in law enforcement for 25 years. Lopez is so involved in the school that he calls the students, “my kids, all 1,400 of them.”

“Some kids would come up to me and say I feel safe when you’re here. If anything, I feel sorry for the one who tries to come on the property and doesn’t belong here,” Lopez said. “I believe these students see me as Ironman where I am untouchable, but the reality is we are family.”

Lopez holds bachelor’s degrees in Homeland Security with a Concentration in Intelligence and Criminal Justice, as well as a master’s degree in Police Administration. He also holds diplomas in Basic and Advanced Forensic Science.

The Palm Beach County School District Police Department has the responsibility of protecting students, staff, and the community on District property. This is done through proactive prevention and diversion programs, as well as normal policing procedures. School Police officers work in collaboration with school administration and municipal law enforcement to create a positive learning environment.

Lopez does just that each day, through his interaction with students and helping those who may be at risk. His involvement even extends to the classroom, through his support of Farah Francois Upperman, a teacher in the school’s Pre-Law Academy where Lopez has been teaching Law for the past six years.

“Teaching is a bit hard since I still have to take care of my school, but for me, this is important as well,” Lopez said. “At the beginning of each school year, I meet with all the 8th graders to talk about life skills, their future, college, and Florida Virtual School, so they can get ahead in high school and begin dual-enrollment.”

“The students have always respected me, and some ask me questions about the law,” Lopez said. “Many hug me and call me uncle while others would call me dad, and a few would say that they are going to be cops when they get older and want to be my partner on the force.”

Officers are responsible for campus patrol, initial case investigations, subsequent follow-up and when necessary, making arrests. The officers also provide classroom presentations and counsel students and parents to foster a better understanding of law enforcement.

"Officer Lopez has been instrumental in maintaining a safe campus at L.C. Swain,” said James Thomas, the school’s principal. “He was an advocate for the creation of the Pre-Law Academy at L.C. Swain and has mentored hundreds of students. As recently as last week, he bought a dress and shoes for a student so that she could attend our 8th-grade dance.”

“He loves L.C. Swain and its community, and embodies so many of the great things law enforcement officers do for the young people in their communities," Thomas said.

Officer talking to students 
 
Officer with students
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