White Station welcomes three new officers



Officers Robert Stewart, Franklin Wade and Ebony Hendricks stand guard in the lobby of the Main Building. The officers split up to monitor different parts of the school throughout the day.

Officers Robert Stewart, Franklin Wade and Ebony Hendricks stand guard in the lobby of the Main Building. The officers split up to monitor different parts of the school throughout the day. (MEGAN SHIPP//THE SCROLL)

In recent years, police work has been heavily scrutinized as violent encounters between police officers and regular people are publicized on social media. Consequently, people can be hesitant to trust police officers, but the new police officers at White Station demonstrate a sole concern for the safety of students on campus.

After becoming a part of law enforcement, officers Ebony Hendricks, Franklin Wade and Robert Stewart all wanted to be stationed at a school. They feel that it is very satisfying to be able to help students in any way that they can.

“Interacting with kids on a daily [basis] is the most rewarding job you can get because you [get to] meet different children from different walks of life,” Hendricks said.

Even with a natural joyful disposition toward students, officers need training on both the basics and how to work as school officers inside Memphis Shelby County Schools (MSCS). The police academy includes extensive physical and mental training on the law and how to de-escalate situations.

“I had to go to the police academy which was about 19 weeks [in] Donelson, Tennessee, which is on the outskirts of Nashville,” Wade said. “That’s what you have to do to be post-certified at the police academy.”

Every year, regulations may change as lawmakers and city councilmen vote on different ordinances and laws. Even officers already stationed in schools have to take yearly training in order to be up to date on new policies. 

“You have to do 40 hours of new refreshers every year, that’s the minimum,” Stewart said. “But there’s other training available that you can sign up for. So, [the training] is ongoing.”

Additional training is also available to officers, simply to increase their repertoire. Wade often takes the extra training so that he is always up to date.

“I’m always a stickler for training that comes up … that could serve a need,” Wade said. “I try to assert myself and [improve] what I know that’s available, even if it’s beyond what we already received.”

All officers have extensive experience working in schools from grades kindergarten through 12th. In addition, they have a combined 49 years in the MSCS school system. 

“This school is one of many I’ve been at … in my years with the school system,” Wade said.

Though being an officer and protecting the many students at the school is their main priority, the officers also have other passions. For example, Stewart has a business selling and installing car stereos during the summer. He used to do much more with the business, but stopped once the internet became prevalent.

“I love doing it,” Stewart said. “I love doing car stereos because we did tinting and custom work. We lowered [the cars] and put [in] ground effects and wheels and tires.”

Hendricks desires for students to accept her first and foremost. She does not want students to have to worry about whether she likes them. Instead, she wants the relationship to be dependent on students’ trust in her protection.

“Conforming has never been an issue for me,” Hendricks said. “So you know, it’s all about accepting me. I feel out you all just like you feel me out, but I want to make sure the first thing that I am to you all is approachable.”

Similarly, Wade feels that even though White Station does not have a particularly bad reputation, he still aims to keep an open mind, acknowledging that preconceptions can alter one’s judgment.

“Some people could go into the same situation that I can go into and have a different outcome, but if you go in with a certain conception, that could be a negative because you’re looking for something that may not be there,” Wade said.

All officers want students to know they can count on them every day, no matter what happens.

“I don’t want them to feel as if they can’t come to me about things,” Hendrick said. “I want them to be comfortable with coming to me. And then I’m gonna give the same [respect] back to them. This is a safe haven and they’re always welcome.”

While their time at White Station has been brief, already these officers have begun to make an impact. From interactions in the halls and around the school, they have been met with a positive reception. 

“I love all of [the officers],” Kyshan McKinley (12) said. “These officers are easier to get to know, and they’re easier to get to know than the [other officers]. They’re funny, they’re cool, [and]they’re very understanding and good people to talk to.”