Patrol, pandemic, and public perception in Lynnfield

This article was published 2 year(s) and 9 month(s) ago.

Alex Doto is the Lynnfield School Resource Officer at Lynnfield High School. (Olivia Falcigno)

By Alex Ross

LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield native Alex Doto simply wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 desk job. He knew as early as high school that he wanted to become a police officer. 

Now, after nearly three and a half years with the Lynnfield Police Department, Doto works as the school resource officer servicing all four public schools in town. 

The problem? Public school in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t look anything like it used to.  

“Once school stopped being in session [in March], my chief put me back on patrol where I was before I became the school resource officer,” Doto said. “And, now, we’re just kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen here in the next couple weeks.”

Before the coronavirus forced schools to close around the country, Doto’s day-to-day duties as the resource officer involved constant interaction with children of all ages. Though his office is located at the high school where he says he spends about 85 percent of his time, some of his favorite moments are with the elementary-aged students. 

“I think they get excited when I’m around,” he said. “I’ll go there for lunch sometimes — Huckleberry or Summer Street — and they ask you a million questions. Being around the younger kids is fun. It’s different, but it’s fun.”

One of the key differences between working with the younger students versus the middle and high schoolers is the terminology Doto uses in his discussions on school safety. His favorite part of the job, however, is the direct impact he believes he can have on all of the students, regardless of age. 

“In my role as a school resource officer, I have that ability to make an impact with the kids and in their lives and maybe change how they feel about certain things because of their interaction with me,” he said. 

In today’s volatile social climate, Doto is hyper aware of the negative perception surrounding members of police forces across the nation. And, while “a lot of the interaction is negative,” he said, his position as a school resource officer “allows me to have that positive interaction.” 

Guided by both a sense of duty and responsibility, he takes immense pride in his job within the community, especially having been born and raised in town. After graduating from Lynnfield High in 2006, Doto spent a semester at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, where he was on the soccer team.  

The following semester, Doto transferred to Salem State, where he later completed his studies in criminal justice and interned with the Woburn Police Department. He went on to attend the MBTA Transit Police Academy and later worked for the campus police at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. 

After Wentworth, Doto made the move to Massport Police patrolling the seaport area, cruise terminal and property in East Boston before making his way to the Groveland Police Department. 

“And then, finally, I got hired here in Lynnfield, which was always my goal,” said Doto. “It just took a little bit of time.” 

And, whether he’s working inside the schools or patrolling areas around town, Doto looks forward to the different challenges each day brings. 

“You never know. That’s the most exciting thing about the job,” he said. “It’s always something different. You could have a quiet day with just a few house alarms, or you could have a day with thefts up at MarketStreet or car accidents. Anything, really. Neighbor disputes. All kinds of stuff. You never know what you’re going to be doing.”

Doto’s commitment to his profession has never changed, even as the events of each day do.  

“I still — even with everything going on in the country — I still take a lot of pride in the job. And, no matter what the public perceives us as, I’m still going to come out every day and do the job to the best of my ability and serve the community the best I can.” 

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