DADE CITY, Fla. - After serving nearly two decades as a detective for the Dade City Police Department, officer Pete Emerson is returning to his old stomping grounds.
"I knew I was going to come back one day," said Emerson, who is once again Pasco High School's resource officer.
Emerson served as the school's SRO from 1997 to 2002. He left to explore other opportunities within the field, but 17 years later, decided to go back to where he felt he was most needed.
"You have an opportunity to impact, make an impact on their life," said Emerson of the students he has grown to consider his children over the years.
But Emerson also recognizes the job has changed.
"In the late '90s, you still had your job, to protect the student body, to protect the faculty, but it was nothing like it is today," he said in reference to the fear of shootings and mass violence. Until I fall asleep at night, that's running through my head, and the minute I wake up, that's running through my head."
He says, for the most part, today's students haven't changed much from those he served back in the day. But increasing incidents of school violence across the country have given Emerson new purpose.
"I'm constantly shaking down doors, making sure the doors are locked," he said, describing the new protocols and policies.
Despite the added pressures, Emerson is ecstatic to be back "home," seeing familiar faces, and protecting the younger generation.