Jason Hazelo, Payson's newest school resource officer, admits that he didn't always practice what he preaches when he was a child.
"Do I have to answer that," is his good-natured response to being asked the question he probably is asked more than any other. But then he laughs and admits he wasn't perfect.
"Oh yeah, I did a few things I wasn't supposed to do, but basically I was a pretty good kid," he said. "I didn't get into any major trouble."
Hazelo, who has been on the job since January, moved to Payson three years ago from Wisconsin where he grew up on a dairy farm.
"I was raised driving a tractor, and I love tractors to this day," he said. "I went to college to major in animal science/dairy herdsman, but switched and ended up getting my degree in business finance," he said.
He also met his wife, Melissa, while he was attending Liberty University in Maryland. She was a Payson High School graduate, and that's how they ended up in the Rim country.
Hazelo, who is 27, splits his time between the three elementary schools, while Dave Blalock works with older students. Hazelo's position was added when the school district was awarded a grant for an additional officer.
At first, he wasn't sure if it was an assignment he wanted.
"My sergeant told me they needed somebody to go over there and teach and be a school resource officer, so I went," he said. "I miss the streets, but I ended up really liking the schools. I hope I'm making somewhat of an impact at least with a couple of students."
Hazelo said he spends a lot time in the classroom.
"I talk to the older kids, the fourth and fifth graders, about bullying, drugs, being a good witness, theft, and shoplifting," he said. "But then I also talk to them about the history of policing, how police forces came about. I go all the way back to how the fingerprinting system was invented in China right up to how the Payson Police Department got started. We also talk about the difference between the Payson police, the sheriff's office and the highway patrol."
With younger students, he focuses on subjects like responsibility and the consequences of actions often in conjunction with the Character Counts program, a district-wide initiative that focuses on six pillars of character.
"I try to incorporate them into what I'm doing in the classroom," Hazelo said.
Another important goal is to change the perception that young people have of police.
"When they think of policemen, they think of people stopping cars," he said. "I try to interact with them so they have a different perception from what they see on TV."
He also tries to be a role model, and he encourages young people to come and talk to him one-on-one.
"When they do come to me, they ask about drugs, alcohol, what you can get in trouble for just a whole gamut of things," he said. "But sometimes, it's a personal issue, like their parents are getting a divorce."
Today's children are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be, he said, but he doesn't think that's all bad.
"They have no problems with computers, and they can tell you everything about video games and TV," he said. "They're a lot more advanced than we were, and I think in a lot of ways, that makes it better for me to reach them."
But Hazelo firmly believes that raising children today is a team effort, and that parents are a key component of the team.
"If I could say one thing to parents, it would be to spend time with your kids," he said. "Help them with their homework; know how they're doing in school. Having me in the schools helps, but it's not nearly enough."
Name: Jason T. Hazelo
Occupation: Patrol officer
Employer: Payson Police Department
Birthplace: Oconto Falls, Wisconsin
Family: Wife, Melissa, and two daughters
Personal motto: Trust in the Lord and he will show me great and mighty things.
Inspiration: My Grandfather Hazelo. He was a hard worker who loved the Lord.
Greatest feat: Owning my home and raising my children.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Spending time outdoors
Three words that describe me best: Ambitious, energetic, faithful.
I don't want to brag but ... I have the cutest kids.
Person in history I'd most like to meet: John Deere.
Luxury defined: 100 head of dairy cattle with 1,200 acres and John Deere tractors to farm the land.
Dream vacation spot: Alaska
Why Payson? My wife would have divorced me if we hadn't moved here. She hates Wisconsin winters. She also has family in the area.