Officer Kirnan holding his award with Deputy Travis Johns

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Aberdeen Central High School Resource Officer John Kirnan has been named SRO of the Year by the South Dakota Association of School Resource Officers. 

Kirnan received the award at a surprise all-school assembly at CHS on Wednesday, Dec. 20. 

Kirnan, who has been Central’s School Resource Officer since 2019, is originally from Aberdeen and a graduate of Central High School. 

He was nominated for the award by Aberdeen Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Becky Guffin. In her nomination letter, Guffin noted Kirnan’s law enforcement knowledge, initiative and involvement with various organizations. 

She also praised one of his strongest attributes: the ability to develop positive relationships with students. 

“While it is clear that his main responsibility is school safety, students enjoy interacting with him on an informal basis,” Guffin wrote. “Throughout the school day, he is highly visible in hallways, classrooms, and common areas, often stopping to visit with staff and students. Even when he is not serving in his official capacity as the school resource officer, he can be seen attending school events to further support our students to learn more about their talents and interests. As a result of his dedication, students feel comfortable coming to him by sharing concerns and seeking advice.” 

Kirnan, who first joined the Aberdeen Police Department in 2004, was also nominated for the award by APD Sgt. Tony Bisbee.

 In his letter, Bisbee recognized the positive influence Kirnan has had on students. 

“He knows them all by their first name and he greets them as they come and go from the school,” Bisbee wrote. 

Kirnan is so appreciated by students and staff, in fact, that they created a “Kirnan Special” meal option—a milkshake and donut for $1. 

“Officer Kirnan brings professionalism to his investigations and interactions with parents, staff and students alike,” Bisbee wrote. “He is passionate about his job, and it is clear in the product that he loves what he is doing.” 

After the assembly, Kirnan expressed his appreciation to students, staff and those who nominated him. 

"I just want everyone to know how much I appreciate the nominations for this award,” he said. “While we know SROs are in schools throughout the country to keep everyone safe, the building of positive relationships with students and staff is equally important. This award wouldn't exist if it weren't for all of the students and staff that support my career. Thank you, everyone!"

The SDASRO School Resource Officer of the Year Award was created in 2009 to recognize the accomplishments of school-based Law Enforcement Officers in South Dakota. For more information, visit the SDASRO website

About the Aberdeen Public School District 

The Aberdeen Public School District provides a comprehensive educational program to approximately 4,200 students in grades K-12, with a mission of empowering all students to succeed in a changing world. Our students receive the knowledge and skills necessary to reach their potential in a global community through high expectations of academic achievement; diverse educational opportunities; and community involvement in a safe, supportive environment. Learn more at