School resource officers vital to safety of students — and more
Every day, we rely on our School Resource Officers (SROs) to help ensure the safety of our students, staff and schools. The U.S. Department of Justice, in 2013, called Charles County Public Schools SRO program and partnership with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office a model for the nation.
Our officers do much more than patrol our school hallways and address security matters. They build relationships between law enforcement and children. They provide the expertise to deal with challenging situations and address security matters.
Since 2011, we have had a fulltime SRO at each middle and high school. Each officer also services the elementary schools in their geographic areas. Additionally, these officers provide summer camps for at-risk youth, teach drug and alcohol prevention programs in middle and high schools, present safe schools programs to parents, school employees and others and monitor a student crime solvers program. Most importantly, the officers build trust with their students, which ultimately makes our schools safer for everyone.
Recently, there has been discussion about reducing or eliminating SROs from our schools. We would hate to see this vital service diminished in any way. It works. The benefits SROs provide to our students are too important to be a budget item that becomes part of a political battle.
In a recent discussion with Sheriff Troy Berry, he stated he was committed to having officers in our schools, but budget constraints were making it hard to keep the program intact. One alternative is for the sheriff to retain control of his budget, including any fund balance, which would secure the SRO program. As a board, we support the sheriff’s budget request and hope the commissioners see the positive impact this decision would have on our schools, students and community.
Virginia McGraw, Chairwoman; Michael Lukas, Vice Chairman; Jennifer S. Abell, Board Member; Mark Crawford, Board Member; Victoria T. Kelly, Board Member; Margaret T. Marshall, Board Member; Barbara S. Palko, Board Member
This letter was sent to the Charles County Commissioners and the Maryland Independent by the Charles County Board of Education.