WELLINGTON Ohio (WJW) – Wellington sophomore Nathan Pickering and senior Tatianna Smith have been close friends for several years. Smith says it was understood that he would be asking her to their high school prom this coming Saturday.

“I knew he was going to ask me to prom, but I thought it was going to be flowers and a sign like usual,” said Smith.

But that was not Pickering’s plan, not by a long shot.

“It’s her senior year so I wanted to make it something bigger than just walking up to her with a sign,” said Pickering.

The sophomore enlisted help from a part-time school resource officer Ben Hogan, who was eager to play along.

“I just went up to him and I was like, ‘Hey, do you want to fake arrest me tomorrow?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, but why?’ and I was like, ‘I want to propose prom to Tati and I kind of want to be arrested and come out of the back of the cop car,'” said Pickering.

“He wanted to be handcuffed. I didn’t want to handcuff him but they were set up to where he could just slip out of them, which is part of the thing because he needed to be out of them in the car and come out with the sign,” said Hogan.

Early Tuesday, Hogan and two other officers arrived at the school and waited in the building’s entrance area until Smith was being dropped off by her mother.

“I pulled into the school with my mom and we dropped off my little brother and I saw three police cars and I’m like, ‘Mom, there’s a bunch of police at the school,’ and she asked me if I feel unsafe because we didn’t know what was going on,” said Smith.

As she walked toward the school, the officers took Pickering in handcuffs to a squad car parked at the entrance.

Hogan then approached Smith, explaining to her that Pickering wanted to write a prom invitation in the high school gym but that it had gone too far and he was being arrested for vandalism.

“I said, ‘you know I like Nate, but there’s nothing I can do. The principal is mad, it’s all on camera. I’ll help him out with the charges as best I can, but my hands are tied with this one,'” said Hogan.

“I thought it was real because they had very good game faces on,” said Smith.

When he felt the ruse had gone far enough, Pickering got out of the police car and held up a sign asking her to prom.

“I saw the sign and I was like, ‘Oh, the whole thing was a joke,’ and I was like, ‘maybe I’ll go with him,'” said Smith.

Pickering says if he had the whole thing to do over again he might have done it even more dramatically.

And because he is a sophomore, he points out that he will have two more chances to do just that.

Hogan, who has been a police officer for 16 years, says he has a great rapport with the kids in the district but says he had never been asked to do anything like that before.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in it and I think it was pretty cool,” said Hogan.