SRO

Sgt. Rebecca Carrado, one of the Frederick Police Department’s school resource officers, chats with students at Lincoln Elementary School in March.

Frederick County Board of Education members asked that data be collected on student perceptions of School Resource Officers (SROs) after an overview of the program was presented to them last week.

Some board members such as Liz Barrett and Karen Yoho seemed concerned that there were minimal student testimonies in the presentation.

“I think that’s pretty crucial information...I think it’s something we need to think about with everything that’s going on in the world,” Yoho said. “It does seem like the hard data might be helpful in understanding the student perception.”

An overview of the SRO program was presented to board members by Scott Blundell, supervisor of Security and Emergency Management for FCPS.

The program began in 1995 and has since grown to include the presence of officers in schools in every single feeder pattern.

The Frederick Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Brunswick Police Department all provide officers.

Blundell said the officers assigned to the program are chosen with care.

“They’re not just officers who don’t want to be on the streets anymore, officers who ... are looking for a change,” Blundell said. “These officers are carefully selected ... because of their personalities, their working capability and their ability to communicate with the public.”

There are currently five assigned officers and one supervisor from FPD; 13 deputies, two corporals, and one sergeant from the Sheriff’s Office, and one officer from the Brunswick Police Department.

According to Blundell, the goal of the program is to provide a uniformed presence inside school buildings, foster relationships between themselves, students, staff and the community, and aid in crime prevention.

The program began in 1995 but was greatly expanded in 2018 after the Maryland Safe to Learn Act mandated that each school system designate a school safety coordinator and provide law enforcement coverage in all schools.

Blundell said the SROs in Frederick County provide a wide array of support from physical security checks to participation in restorative practice circles and presentations in the classrooms.

Barrett asked how the program measures its own success rate.

Blundell pointed to arrest statistics that are submitted every year by local school systems to the Maryland State Department of Education.

“Frederick County is one of the lowest regarding arrests in our school buildings or involving our students so I would think being successful, you could look at those numbers,” Blundell said. “We could look at the fact that they’re building relationships with the students and the staff and they know these students by name.”

The most recent data related to arrests in public schools available on the state’s website is for the 2018-2019 school year. Frederick County ranked 20th out of 24 school systems, with only 40 arrests.

Anne Arundel and Washington counties had the highest number of arrests in public schools with 356 and 324 respectively.

Looking at a more specific breakdown of the Frederick County data, most of the arrests for the 2018-2019 school year were made at Brunswick High School and 60 percent of students arrested across the school system were white.

Despite the high number of arrests at Brunswick High, Mia Martinez, the student member of the board and a rising senior at Brunswick High, said she has seen students form close relationships with the school’s SRO.

Only one arrest made was an actual physical arrest – the remaining 39 were paper arrests where an officer initiated a referral or request for charges to the Department of Juvenile Services.

Most often, the reason for arrest was “Attack on Student” and 30 out of the 40 arrested students had a final outcome of returning to school.

Despite the most recent data showing that a majority of students arrested in FCPS are white, Barrett said she would like to see the data on how students perceive SROs and perhaps work with the Racial Equity Committee to address perceptions from students of color.

“Law enforcement officers in buildings, they certainly have done some tremendous things and they are good partners for the school system, but they may not make all students feel safe,” Barrett said. “Those are hard conversations and direct conversations that we need to have.”

The effect of SROs on students of color was recently brought up by an FCPS alum during a town hall event hosted by End Racism FCPS — an organization that is working to address equality and diversity issues present within the school system.

Jazmin Colón, a graduate of Urbana High School, said SROs are often seen as friendly because a majority of their interactions are with white students.

“At schools like West Frederick Middle, many students silently feared the SROs because as a person of color, in the back of your head you always know that an outburst will not be handled like an outburst from a white peer,” Colón said.

Barrett asked is SROs participate in FCPS training on implicit bias and cultural proficiency.

Lt. Mike Easterday, commander of the SROs from the Sheriff’s Office, said his deputies go through their own training but not anything from FCPS.

Board members seemed to agree on administering a survey to assess the perception of the officers and program. Board member Michael Bunitsky said he would like parents and community members to be surveyed as well, not just students.

Any survey might not be developed or administered for some time, as School Superintendent Terry Alban pointed out that students will need to be back in buildings in order to take it.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

(17) comments

threecents

Excellent article. It boggles my mind that some find this slanted left or right.

MDchange

Students would be worse off and not as safe without SRO’s like Sgt. Carrado and others like her. They devote their lives to the well-being of all children within the FCPS system. It’s time to show them support and stop the nonsense.

neilyoungfan25

Liz Barrett hates cops, so she will vote to keep the SRO's out of the schools if it gets to that point. She is not a good role model for FCPS children. Remember she disrupted a rally at Baker Park last Fall because she hates the Sheriff?? I am hoping this is her last term on the board! Her spot needs to be occupied by someone more open-minded.

MD1756

I'd be happy if all SRO positions were eliminated. Afterall, wasn't it the demand of parents to keep their children safe (mainly from each other, sometimes from spouses of employees and rarely from someone who has no affiliation (past or present) with the school) that lead to a great increase in this program? Low "arrest rates" could also show that there is no real need for them over school administrators handling discipline issues.

"“At schools like West Frederick Middle, many students silently feared the SROs because as a person of color, in the back of your head you always know that an outburst will not be handled like an outburst from a white peer,” Colón said." Isn't that student guilty of profiling or discrimination by thinking that? Statements like that are similar to those who suggest that Blacks or Hispanics are more prone to crime. Generally speaking, isn't no interaction with them (SROs or police) good? It means you aren't doing something wrong. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Instead of asking about students perception of SROs how about asking the students their opinion of how well their parents are providing for them and how well their parents have prepared them for success in their life?

awteam2000

“Isn't that student guilty of profiling or discrimination by thinking that?“ No...

Profiling is discriminatory when practice by law enforcement officials or one in authority to target individuals for suspicion of crime or to discriminate based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

MD1756

Merriam-Webster definition of profiling

: the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies

anyone can profile, not just law enforcement. Advertisers profile all the time. Google does it on a massive scale.

bosco

Everybody profiles, it's just that the left has turned it into a bad word to use as a silencer of the conservatives. You walk down the street and you profile. See a skateboarder - you profile. See a homeless guy talking to himself, you profile. See a guy dressed up as a clown, you profile.

[ninja]

jsklinelga

Let's be blunt. First I have life long friends that have held jobs in "upper" management in local government, including FCPS. I have the upmost respect for them and their life's work. But the system has grown extraordinarily political and I am not sure anybody that rocks the boat has any more job security than a conservative columnist for the NYT.

This was a reasonable article, about a successful program, until the highlight turned it into a typical, racist, politically correct piece in search of racism.

BunnyLou

JSK[thumbup][thumbup]

bosco

Notice the article cited that 60 percent of those arrested were White. Another hammer in search of a nail, but they are hard-pressed to find one.

[ninja]

Greg F

Great...so 60% are white...how are the whites handled vs those of colors. Nice way to selectively read the article. You know all to well it's not the same.

Thewheelone

JSK please explain your comment; is it that the article mentioned black and white? What are referring to regarding "job security?"

jsklinelga

Wheelone

It is simple but off topic. The Teacher's union is the most powerful political entity in the State. It spends, by far, the most on lobbying. A 100% Democrat super PAC

It is directly funded by tax payer money - the dues supporting the union are from salaries paid directly from taxes.

It has become a self perpetuating entity. The MOE guarantees it's continued existence. After several hundred years of ethic laws that prohibited public employees from holding dual positions as elected officials the administration of the new CE countermanded those laws. The old ethic commission was disbanded and FCPS employees were allowed to hold office and vote on budgets that directly impacted them and their union, financially. The rationale for allowing this is one of the most twisted prevarications I have ever witnessed.

i could go on but we all know the facts. It is a Democrat's dream, just as long as you go with the flow. But to life long democrats that see the unethical foundation of this system, and its huge social impact, it is one major reason for supporting President Trump.

As far as job security, I doubt a pro Trump supporter would have much chance for advancement within this Democrat system.

phydeaux994

How do you know so much about all these things you profess to know in your comment?? Just more Political storytelling about how horrible the Democrats are. Four references to Democrats not a one about Republicans jsk. You are by far the one here that has blindly swallowed the Purple Ooze spoon fed to the ever shrinking DJ Trump “base”. The “Conspiracy Theory” you wrote here is just plain Strange. Do you “Dream” this stuff?? BTW jsk, there is absolutely NO rational reason for supporting Trump, the long list of “accomplishments”😂🤣from the WH that you posted here notwithstanding. Never was. He has trashed America. His approval rating has gone from the usual 60-40 to 70-30 against. Read George Will’s column today. Only Hugh Hewitt joins you in your adulation of him. Peace.✌️

DickD

You do have some weird ideas, Jim

By the way is upmost the same as utmost?

DickD

I could say more, but phy has your number.

Pisces

Agree

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!