Caroline SRO program recognized by state
ANNAPOLIS — Caroline County’s School Resource Officer program received multiple awards at the Maryland Center for School Safety’s annual conference in Annapolis.
Cpl. Michael “Rico” Gestole of the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office was named the Maryland School Resource Officer of the Year; and Caroline County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Milton Nagel and Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds received the School Safety Superintendent and Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award.
Caroline County Public Schools’ School Resource Officer (SRO) program was piloted in 2008 through grant funding.
In partnership with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, Gestole was appointed the county’s first SRO and assigned to the campus at Colonel Richardson middle and high schools. Since then, in addition to his regular school year duties, Gestole has become a 12-month SRO, allowing him the summer months to work on school crisis management plans and provide training to school staff.
In submitting the nomination, Nagel wrote Gestole epitomizes the role of the SRO.
“I have never seen Rico in his office,” Nagel wrote. “He is always out and about interacting with students, staff and visitors. His visual presence combined with his engaging personality is one of his best characteristics. Not only does he know every student by first and last name, he knows many of their parents and extended family members.
“Rico has broken down walls between students and law enforcement, and students are comfortable coming to him and sharing information that is then used to help defuse situations before they become a problem,” Nagel wrote.
Nagel and Bounds were nominated for their award, given in recognition of outstanding commitment to working together to keep students and staff safe throughout the school year, by Caroline County Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens.
“Mr. Nagel and Sheriff Bounds’ teamwork, outstanding leadership, and special commitment to Caroline County Public Schools and the Caroline community is inspiring,” Saelens wrote. “They have developed a comprehensive school safety program with other counties modeling our practices and standards. Their leadership skills have enabled us to maximize our dollars and resources, which is vital to our small community.”
The Maryland Center for School Safety was created to promote learning environments in which youth statewide are in a position to acquire the skills and knowledge to help them succeed in school and in life.
The Center serves as a central location for school safety information, and provides schools with research, training and technical assistance to reduce youth violence and promote safety in the state.
Cpl. Michael “Rico” Gestole, left, Maryland School Resource Officer of the Year, and Caroline County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Milton Nagel, center, and Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds, right, winners of the School Safety Superintendent and Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award, display the plaques they received recently at the Maryland Center for School Safety’s annual conference in Annapolis.