Wheeling Police Sgt. John Schultz Wins State PRO Award Again

Photo by Scott McCloskey Wheeling Police Sgt. John Schultz has been awarded his second West Virginia PRO award for his work as a prevention resource officer at Wheeling Middle School.

WHEELING — Wheeling Police Sgt. John Schultz said he has “the greatest job in the world” serving as prevention resource officer at Wheeling Middle School, and his passion for his vocation recently won him his second “West Virginia PRO of The Year Award” from the State Division of Justice and Community Services in the past three years.

Schultz learned of the honor during the 2016 West Virginia Prevention Resource Officer Conference taking place last month at the new conference center at The Highlands in Triadelphia. More than 80 resources officers from around the state attending training sessions and a banquet there, and this was the first such event to take place at the newly opened facility.

A silver cup containing the names of each PRO of the year now contains Schultz’s name as the winner for 2014 and 2016, and it sits in the main office at Wheeling Middle School.

Also on the cup twice is the name of Sgt. Don Miller, PRO at Bridge Street Middle School, who won in 2011 and 2012.

While West Virginia ranks last in many areas, the state is generally regarded as having among the strongest PRO programs in the nation, according to Schultz. This is because PROs around the state are quick to network, communicate and share information.

“We don’t have a lot positives going on in this state, but we are taking care of our kids,” Schultz said of West Virginia. “When you rise above and beyond, you get this kind of award. It’s about just knowing what you need to do for your kids.”

In Ohio County, there are six PROs serving within the public schools — four are members of the Wheeling Police Department, and two are deputies with the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department.

And seeking out criminal behavior is only a small part of a PRO’s job. Mentoring, counseling and establishing relationships with students is paramount, as is communicating with parents and sometimes visiting students’ residences to determine what their homelife is like.

The PROs are required to present five “alternative classes” each school year, though Schultz said his classroom talks typically number more than 200 each year. These can address anything from manners and citizenship to the perils of drug abuse.

“In this job, you’re only limited by your imagination,” Schultz said.

He usually doesn’t wear a formal police uniform, but dresses down so that he appears “more accessible” to the students.

Schultz is a 1981 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, and an alumnus of the former West Liberty State College. He has been a PRO at Wheeling Middle School for six years, and a member of the Wheeling Police Department for 21 years.

Along the way, he also achieved a blackbelt in Chinese Kung Fu.

After college, Schultz started out as an aquatic director for the Wheeling YMCA, where he continues to train lifeguards working at local pools.

And last year, his experience came into play when he saved a special needs students at his school from drowning while on a field trip to the Wheeling Park swimming pool. Schultz dove into the pool fully clothed — including his gun belt and boots — when he realized the lifeguard needed help bringing the student to the surface.

It was the 13th time he had saved someone from drowning.

Schultz first won his first “PRO of the year” award in 2014 after actions that led to the discovery of a loaded handgun in the locker of a Wheeling Middle School student. He was on bus duty outside that day when he was approached by a mother carrying bullets. She said her child had received them from another student at the school, whom she identified.

Schultz notified then principal John Jorden, and the two searched the youth’s locker and found the loaded  handgun inside.

The process took little more than five minutes.

“It was good work with my principal,” he said. “We stopped something that could have been bad — stopped it quick. Nobody even knew what we did, and within five minutes we had it resolved.

“By that time, the chief knew about it, and the superintendent was already on it. Charleston (the State Division of Justice and Community Services) knew — we already had everything in action. Nothing happened because of that quick resolve. Little things like that make a difference, and that’s what got me the first PRO of the Year award — that quick action.”