Believe it or not, it will not be long before the school bell rings, signaling another start to a school year. It was not a given this year, like most other years, thanks to all the COVID-19 scares and issues. When school begins in Cut Bank next week, there will be a new School Resource Officer (SRO) from the Cut Bank Police Department, Officer Elijah Katchur.
“The SRO’s primary duty station is the Cut Bank Schools,” said Police Chief Mike Schultz. “The SRO works with school officials to create and maintain a safe environment for children to learn. Officer Katchur will work at all three school locations.”
Those are his primary duties at the schools, Chief Schultz said, but Officer Katchur will also be working “to educate students and staff in various community and school safety topics, such as stranger danger, bike and crosswalk safety, alcohol and drug problems, self-defense and personal safety, among others.”
Officer Katchur replaces former SRO Officer Austin DeRoche who served as the SRO the last two school years. “He did a great job in the schools. We appreciate the time he took with students and staff,” stated Chief Schultz.
Officer DeRoche returns to work as a patrolman with the Cut Bank Police Department. “He does an excellent job at traffic and DUI enforcement, as well as managing a criminal case load. He is an exemplary patrolman and we look forward to having his motivation and production back on normal patrol.”
As the SRO, Officer Katchur will work most school days from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Chief Schultz said he will flex some of his time to work special events like tournaments or football games.
During the normal course of his day, Officer Katchur will perform daily patrols and will hold meetings with students and staff as necessary. “The daily interaction of a police officer and students helps familiarize students with police officers and helps them feel comfortable reporting crimes and knowing police will help them in an emergency,” said Chief Schultz. “An officer in the school provides an experienced and knowledgeable teacher for students and staff.”
In the event that Officer Katchur cannot be at the school during school hours, Chief Schultz said they have other trained SROs that will be able to assume those duties. That includes Chief Schultz, Officer DeRoche and their newest officer to the force, Officer Allister Bunch.
Officer Bunch started with the Cut Bank Police Department just a few weeks ago and he said he is very happy living and working in Cut Bank.
Officer Bunch comes to Cut Bank from the Portland, Ore., area where he worked for 17 years in law enforcement. He left there as a Sergeant.
Before working and living in Oregon, Officer Bunch started his law enforcement career in southern California, taking his first job with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“I really enjoy working in law enforcement. It has allowed me to have some great experiences and has given me the opportunity to move and work in other states,” he said. “I started in it because I knew I needed to find something to do that was rewarding and a good way to support my family.”
Officer Bunch said he first wanted to be a fireman and when there was not a position available, he opted to take some classes at the community college. In a room next to one of his classes, were classes designed for policemen. He decided he would give those a try. The career really chose him, he said.
His family, who are all here with him in Cut Bank, includes his wife Jennifer, who he said he has been married to “for a long time, even though it seems like a day,” and their two children, twins, Edward and Melia, who are going to be juniors at Cut Bank High School this fall.
While life in a small town is new to the Bunch family, it is something they are all happy about. “The kids are really excited about school,” he shared. “And we really like Cut Bank and want to make this our home. This town has the most amazing people here.”