Sunday, December 16, 2012

congress should provide funding for police in schools

Should school districts hire community police officers to provide protection in their schools?

Proposal that Congress provide funding to school districts that want police protection in schools...

I am writing to our Congressional delegation (Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Congresswoman Lowey, Engel) asking them to provide funding to school districts that wish to hire school resource officers (police officers assigned to school districts).

The SRO is a community-oriented police officer with the skills to build relationships, solve problems and enforce the law.SROs are assigned to a school community on a long-term basis to provide full police services, including maintaining order on the school campus and reducing the fear of crime within the school community. They also can work with students who are the victims of bullying.

A School Resource Officer Program is personalized to the school in which the officer works. The SRO becomes familiar with their schools specific needs as well as being approachable by the students and staff when issues arise. The SRO works with the school administration, staff and students to address situations that may disrupt the schools mission, which includes everything from parking/traffic concerns to criminal offenses occurring on campus. School Resource Officers have the opportunity to educate the school community in crime prevention methods as well as empowering them to help maintain a safe school environment. People who do not understand the School Resource Officer Program believe that the SROs are there just to patrol the halls and arrest students.

One of the core components of community policing is to build partnerships and relationships for the purpose of creating safe school environments. On an individual basis, the SRO can improve the relationship between youth and police one child at a time. A teenager who may be facing difficulties can find the SRO to be a caring adult as well as an example of a professional police officer. On a much larger scale the SRO facilitates a partnership between the police department and the school system. In a crisis situation the SRO has the ability to communicate with school administrators and police officials and understand the needs of both entities.

In 2001 I sent letters to all the school districts in Greenburgh proposing that the town partner with school districts that wish to fund school resource officers by contributing 50% of the costs of the program. The response was not favorable: resistance from school districts who did not want to hurt the image of the schools by acknowledging a risk that nobody wants to admit (NY TIMES, April 3, 2001).
Greenburgh Town Supervisor