New on campus: safety and security monitors patrol the school


Kyle Dane

Sheriff emblem on Deputy Downs office door in the main hall

The resplendent quetzal is a South American bird known for its beautiful green plumage and its association to the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl. Quetzals were so valuable that they were protected under Mayan and Aztec laws.

The tattoo of a quetzal covering Veronica Mitchell’s left bicep is hard to miss. In fact, it’s a little intimidating at first, but Mitchell wants to be known for protection, not intimidation.

“I have gotten that I do look scary. I’m really not. I’m usually the nicest person ever. So I’ve had multiple kids ask, ‘Can I read your tattoos?’ Yeah, I don’t mind. But just don’t think of us as the bad guys,” said Mitchell.

Over the summer two new positions were added to boost campus security. Veronica Mitchell was hired as a new safety and security monitor starting at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. She believes that her tattoos help to remind her that there are hiccups in life and to keep pushing forward.

Apart from the quetzal, Mitchell’s arms are covered with two more big tattoos, a pair of elephants and a Cherokee fable.

“I have elephants for me and my little sister, because there was a story about elephants. There were two sisters and the little one got taken. And a little big sister finally found the other. And then this one’s just an old Cherokee saying that you have two wolves inside of you. One evil, one Good. So the grandson asks, which one wins? And it’s whichever one you feed,” said Mitchell.

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree focusing on Education, Psychology, and Special Ed, Mitchell went on to be a teacher’s aide for preschoolers. She later made the switch to working with highschool students and was asked to fill the position of Campus Security.

“They reached out to me because I was a [paraprofessional] in the MD room prior. I wanted to do something different, get more involved, see more kiddos outside rather than us just being in our little bubble kind of thing,” said Mitchell.

Over the summer, high school and junior high principals joined with school resource officer Deputy John Downs to conduct interviews for these positions.

“We put the applications out there. We were very clear about the kind of people that we wanted for that role. And then we did interview processes. And that’s how things shook out at the end. We have one male and one female,” said Leist.

The district needed to hire two security guards not only because of the size of the student body but also for the convenience of having a man and a woman to be able to check the respective bathrooms for issues such as vaping and vandalism.

“Their sole job is to keep the building safe, keep the kids safe, so they can concentrate on learning and not worrying. It’s our job to make sure that it’s all taken care of and that’s why they’re there. It’s really what it comes down to,” said Leist.

While Kings High School has no major security threats, more campus security helps to make school even safer and brings peace of mind for staff and students.

Mitchell works with Chad Caudell to maintain a sense of security in the school by checking the perimeter to see if anything has been compromised.

“If there’s any kids that need help getting from place to place, they usually call for me. I do have to check restrooms for vandalization, which does happen, or for other issues that have happened. And then I do the same at junior high,” said Mitchell.

Deputy Downs personally knew both Mitchell and Caudell before they were hired. 

“I’ve known [Mitchell] a few years since she’s been here at Kings, her relationship with the students, her personality, I knew that she would be a good fit,” said Downs.

Caudell has twenty-six years of experience in law enforcement, and after speaking with him a few times over the past year, Downs knew that he would be a great candidate. 

“I have a background in law enforcement, my wife teaches in the district, and my kids have all graduated from the school district,” said Caudell. “I saw a position available. I thought it would be a good fit so I applied for it and it worked out so I’m happy to be here. I’m hoping to provide a safe and fun environment for kids,”

Like Mitchell, Caudell is looking forward to the year ahead of him, and the students he’ll meet along the way.

“I encourage them to come up and introduce themselves to me so I can get to know them and kind of start building relationships with the kids.  I want them to feel comfortable approaching me and ask any questions or concerns they have, or any safety issues, and that’s what we’re here for, to keep everybody safe and to have a safe learning environment,” said Caudell.