One student, a fifth-grader, wanted to know if Cichra had ever needed to pull his weapon. He thought for a minute about his decade on midnight patrol in the lonely outreaches of Butler County — the heroin addicts, the car crashes, the trips to notify families of dead, the drunk who had charged at him with a knife and forced Cichra to pull his Beretta, the closest he had ever come to firing a weapon. None of the stories felt appropriate here.
“Nothing big,” he said. “Just for some police work.”
He went back to the desk at the front of the school and watched the door for $14.71 an hour. He wondered: Was he protecting kids’ environment or changing it?
“It’s a fine line,” he said.
He had brought along a book called “American Sniper,” a soldier’s memoir that showed a picture of an automatic rifle on the book’s cover. Now he removed the cover and hid it inside the drawer of his desk. “The kids don’t need to be seeing that,” he said.
He sat by the door and read the book with its cover off, feeling now and again, out of habit, for the Beretta on his hip.