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Empen offers farewell tribute as Dallas stands down

DIXON – As Mark Dallas’ days on the Dixon Police Department wind down, he is hearing more and more moments of appreciation for his many years in law enforcement.

At Wednesday’s Dixon school board meeting, Dallas heard plenty of gratitude from the entity that perhaps couldn’t thank him enough.

Dallas ended his 5-year assignment as Dixon High School’s student resource officer this summer, handing it over to officer Chris Scott.

“The last 5 years have been the highlight of my career,” Dallas said.

Superintendent Margo Empen said she considered Dallas to be part of the Dixon schools family “now and forever.”

“Officer Dallas has developed a great rapport and connection with our students, our staff and quite frankly, our parents and community,” she said. “The rapport wasn’t developed overnight. Officer Dallas worked very hard, spending lots of time with our students and staff inside and outside the normal school day. 

“One of things that we’re most thankful for is that he’s played a key role in the safety and security measures that have been implemented at Dixon High School over the last 5 years.

“His presence was the reason that we had no student and no staff injured, and his actions that day, as we know, were nothing short of heroic. We’re exceedingly glad every day, but especially that day to have him on our campus.”

Dallas, his wife, Jennifer, and children Joshua and Jennifer were in attendance.

“I got to enjoy spending time with my kids that I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with when they were younger,” he said.

“Seeing them in the high school every day was just a joy in my life, and several other students that I have relationships with. They’re just good kids, and I enjoyed seeing them all of the time.”

Dallas began his police career in Lanark in 1994. He served 6 years with Rock Falls before moving to Dixon in 2003, where he was its K-9 handler. His last official day has yet to be determined, Police Chief Steven Howell said.

Moving to the school resource officer position gave him an opportunity to do more for the community and Dixon’s youth, he said. 

“I’ll miss my Dixon High School family, but I don’t think you’ll get rid of me too easy. I’m sure I’ll be around.”

Scott, who admitted to feeling a little nervous before his maiden speech to the board, affirmed that he can take on the big shoes to be filled. 

“I’m coming into a building that’s a new part of my job that I don’t know yet, and I can tell you that I plan on being a very dedicated officer for the high school,” he said. “One of the main goals that I have is to be a mentor to the kids there, and bridge that gap between law enforcement and youth.”

When Scott applied for his new position, he sought Dallas out for advice and how to make the environment around the high school better. This caught the attention of a hiring panel, which consisted of Howell, Dixon Principal Michael Grady, and assistant principals Doug Stansford and Jared Shaner.

“We thought that was pretty impressive that he would go and do that,” Stansford said. “He wanted to help students learn and grow from their mistakes. 

“We feel like we’ve really got a good one here.”

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