A group of Frederick County Public School alumni and students who spent the summer demanding more accountability from the school system on issues of racism are now calling for a re-examination of the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in school buildings.

The group, called “End Racism FCPS”, held a virtual town hall over the weekend to talk about SROs and the effect they have on students of color.

“The presence of SROs perpetuates the dehumanization and criminalization of Black and brown students across the United States and in Frederick County,” Sirad Hassan, a lead organizer of End Racism FCPS said in an email.

The group’s town hall came just weeks after the Frederick County Board of Education received an overview of the SRO program and how it has grown since its establishment in 1995.

FCPS has 16 SROs throughout the county—one in each feeder pattern.

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

Scott Blundell, supervisor of Security and Emergency Management for FCPS, said 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, widely referred to as one of the best in the state, 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.

Sheriff’s deputies and Frederick City Police Officers who currently serve as SROs recalled forming good relationships with students and said they enjoy being in school buildings.

However, the issue of student perception was brought up. Board members Liz Barrett and Karen Yoho both said student perception data is critical to the conversation. Barrett also asked if SROs are required to go through FCPS’s implicit bias training.

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.

End Racism FCPS argue SROs make students of color feel threatened and uncomfortable. They held the town hall to provide a safe space for parents, students, and community members to share their feelings on the program.

“With everything going on in the news surrounding police officers in general, I think that this conversation is crucial to the school environment, and I think that, if anything, allowing people to voice their opinions is the bare minimum of what FCPS should be doing,” Amya Diggs, a lead organizer for End Racism FCPS said.

But the town hall didn’t include many student or alumni testimonies. A majority of the hour-long event was dedicated to presentations by guest speakers who spoke about topics such as the school-to-prison pipeline, institutional racism, racial disparities, and adverse childhood experiences that affect students of color.

Hassan said she hopes the presentations will cause a mindset shift for those who cannot imagine schools without the presence of SROs. Many think of SRO’s as bringing safety to a school, but it actually has the opposite effect, she said.

“There is no significant data that shows that SROs prevent school shootings, but there is data on how the presence of SROs causes more students, proportionally greater numbers who are Black and brown, to be sucked into the school-to-prison pipeline, unfortunately,” Hassan said.

When asked how schools are to remain safe and secure if SROs are removed, Hassan said it’s important for FCPS, board members and other elected officials will think outside the box.

“It is imperative...to consider evidence-based alternatives and restorative justice programs that prioritize having especially BIPOC [Black, indigenous, people of color] mental health counselors who are both trained and able to help those students,” Hassan said.

Diggs pointed out that a large amount of funding is put toward the SRO program and that if officers were removed from schools this funding could be redirected toward more educational and mental health resources to support students and prevent violence.

The school system received approximately $2.4 million from the county this year to support the SRO program, according to the recently approved FCPS Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget.

The organizers know that a sudden nullification of the program may not be possible but they want to open up the conversation and explore an alternate world where school buildings can be secure while students of color do not feel threatened.

“We need to have an honest conversation about this and I don’t think...there has been an honest conversation about this outside the organizing circles so having this platform is something I believe is really important,” Hassan said.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

(60) comments

Crab0721

I don't know why they would even consider getting rid of them. My daughter was bullied and threatened by a student who had said that they were going to beat her to death and that they would shoot her. Well they only place that that student had contact was at school. The school refused to do anything because the message was not sent during school hours. Well when it happens on school property or something happens to my child then what. Also what about an emergency? I know that there was an accident at a school where several cars were involved and the SRO was there to help. You also have a lot of kids that are now bringing drugs to school that is a safety issue and the SRO can help with this. There are so many things that they can do and I am sure that not just the minority students are uncomfortable with them. This has absolutely nothing to do with race.

Did anyone do any research on the people who are wanting this? I am just wondering if there is a hidden agenda that they have. You just don't know people these days

phydeaux994

CD, did you notice that the the article was about a RACIAL ISSUE???😂🤣🤪you need to replace your Dunce Cap with a Thinking Cap. But my question was “why does Middletown or any other school in FC need a SRO? My point was DickD, you and I grew up in an era when there were Reform Schools, remember those? And they were filled with “WHITE” kids. We didn’t need no sissy SRO’s to keep those White kids in line. I had a teacher in Jr. High that threw erasers at disruptive kids. We had boys that the bullies threw in the girls bathroom every morning. My 8th grade wood shop teacher fought a kid who attacked him. He picked him up and grabbed his ear and marched him to the Principals Office and returned to class. We didn’t need no stinkin’ SRO’s.

bosco

"So now we have the opinions of a bunch of bigoted White Guys who haven’t been in a school for years saying how minority students should feel about having unnecessary cops in their schools.".

[ninja]

C.D.Reid

Fido, this comment of yours was what I was referring to:

phydeaux994 Sep 2, 2020 7:15pm

"So now we have the opinions of a bunch of bigoted White Guys who haven’t been in a school for years......."

Yeah, the article was about race, and you felt it necessary to inject your own racism right along with it. Now, how about an answer to my 10:50 question for you yesterday morning?

" How many times was [the Middletown SRO] needed last year," fido? How would you feel if he were removed and then something happened where he was desperately needed, like a school shooting or something similar?

gabrielshorn2013

So, according to you phy, only schools with kids of color need SROs? Hmmm...good to know. The SRO's are a result of helicopter parents wanting protection for their students from a ridiculously minuscule probability of a shooting at their kids school. It was an expensive overreaction. Your example of a teacher manhandling a student would not be tolerated today, and would result in a lawsuit by the kid and their parents. As for the Middletown SRO, all the kids like him and respect him. Well...except for those kids who cannot behave themselves. All the students at MHS know who those kids are, and so does Officer Smothers. As an added benefit, kids get to regularly interact with a police officer, overcome their biases, and learn not to fear them. Isn't that the major complaint, that cops don't interact with kids in the neighborhood? Well, isn't this a solution to that problem? Kids and cops meeting on neutral and safe territory?

C.D.Reid

And I see fido is still making every issue a racial one. Must be that 400 years of funneling blacks into the inner cities thingy.

bosco

Yeah, he's a one-trick pony. We must be carefull not to exceed our daily quota of posts and stay within the time frames allocated by the LLBTT. It's ok for their hate fests to clog up any discussion, but woe unto those who do not subscribe to the radical left's groupthink.

[thumbup][ninja]

C.D.Reid

Yeah, because if we go over our allotted quota and time, someone might post something ignorant like "The cult is out in force today! Enjoy yourselves." And we wouldn't want that, now would we? ("a one trick pony." Good one! [thumbup][lol])

awteam2000

Cd, are you and Bosco dating?

C.D.Reid

Deflecting from my 12:56 question, aw?

bosco

No more than Newmarket, purplepickle, and MrsM and their daily three-way.

[scared][ninja]

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][lol][lol][lol]

bosco

Thanks, CD, but that was almost too easy.

[thumbup][ninja]

C.D.Reid

Yep, they do know how to set themselves up. [thumbup]

phydeaux994

So now we have the opinions of a bunch of bigoted White Guys who haven’t been in a school for years saying how minority students should feel about having unnecessary cops in their schools. How many of the SRO’s are minorities?? The RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans/BTT(BullyTagTeam) are a freakin’ joke. Every HUMAN BEING IS EQUAL IN THE EYES OF GOD. Live with it.

dabittle

The SRO in Middletown, where I live, is black...and a wonderful man he is! Now what?

gabrielshorn2013

Exactly dabittle. My kids think Officer Smothers is a great guy. He knows all the kids, and they respect him

DickD

I have talked to some of the officers and always found them congenial. I just don't see how Black children would be upset, especially when some of the officers are Black.

phydeaux994

That’s one. They need a SRO in Middletown?? How many times was he needed last year?? I went to Hyattsville Jr. High from 1951-1954. Lots of fights there. No Black Kids. I was a Junior at Sherwood High School in 1956 when the first Black Kids came in. No fights or problems. 62 years ago no problems, now all minorities in Frederick County Public Schools are thugs and troublemakers. Now what?? How about end Racism and see what happens??

DickD

Heck, I grew up in a school with no Black kids. We still had fights. A bigger problem is bullying and that's usually bigger kids picking on smaller or weaker kids, nothing to do with skin color.

bosco

"So now we have the opinions of a bunch of bigoted White Guys who haven’t been in a school for years saying how minority students should feel about having unnecessary cops in their schools".....

[lol][lol][lol][lol][ninja]

C.D.Reid

Every issue is a racial one. You, I, and everyone knows that.

C.D.Reid

" How many times was [the Middletown SRO] needed last year," fido? How would you feel if he were removed and then something happened where he was desperately needed, like a school shooting or something similar?

awteam2000

Bosco, you forgot to mention racist and ignorant.

C.D.Reid

aw, you do realize bosco was quoting fido, don't you?

bosco

It was too precious to pass up. Fido rails against old white guys who haven't been in school in years and then he proceeds to tell us how it was when an old white guy was in school. [lol][lol][lol][lol][ninja]

francesca_easa

Years ago when my son was a freshman at Middletown, he got very sick during the school day. I was stuck in DC because I commuted by MARC train, and could not get there to take my son home. Officer Smothers gave my son a ride home. Pulled over when my son had to vomit. Gave him some bottled water when he was done so he could rinse his mouth. And then drove him home and waited in the driveway until my son got in the door and waved that he was okay. Thank you Officer Smothers. I Back the Blue!!!

bosco

I've been listening to Bidenz lessons on race relations and I have learned a lot: The Black community does not have a diverse culture, unlike the Latino community. Poor kids are just as smart as White kids. It's OK to partner up with the Grand Wizard of the KKK to filibuster a bill on busing so that your kids don't have to go to school in a racial jungle and later praise the Wizard at his funeral. And one of the most precious lessons yet In May, Biden did a radio interview and said that Black voters “ain’t black” if they decided to support President Trump.

Come on, man.

[ninja]

awteam2000

🤔. You have to wonder. Bosco, what would a Black or Hispanic minority see in Trump? What do they have to lose? You can’t be serious. Do you have a TV with a connection?

C.D.Reid

What would a Black or Hispanic minority see in Trump? Well, for starters, how about record unemployment rates for the both of them before the Chinese Virus hit?

awteam2000

Carryover from the previous administration where unemployment dropped dramatically . That’s one and what’s number two? CD?

bosco

What I see is the Dems plantation massah Biden telling me I ain't Black unless I vote for him. Need more?

HappySeller2014

"End Racism FCPS" sounds like a whining toddler sitting in its own soiled diaper. These folks are idiots. But I appreciate the comic relief it provides during these pandemic times, as I really smiled a bunch just marveling at their stupidity.

pittsmom04

These people are so stupid. Ugggggh

buckster

These people are fn crazy. Looks like comments are near 100% pro cop. Keep it up Frederick County. I'd say looters and rioters dehumanize innocent citizens. I'd say school shooters delete kids. I'll hang with the cops thank you. 9 out of 10 doctors agree, once a looter is infected with the AR-15 virus, they don't loot anymore.

C.D.Reid

Good one, buckster! [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][lol]

Blueline

I would put a little more credibility in what teachers think of SRO effectiveness, rather than some former students.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup]

C.D.Reid

Hell yeah! [thumbup]

dabittle

That as a community we feel the need for SRO's to supervise--babysit--High School students is sad commentary on the unacceptability of SOME of those "students." The public school system is ostensibly tasked with inculcating children, not dealing with gross behavioral and/or moral deficits.

That some students feel threatened or uncomfortable by the presents of SRO's speaks to those student's dysfunctional relationship with rules, laws and socially acceptable conduct.

School administrators should remove, post-haste, any student that does not behave and/or is not there to learn.

C.D.Reid

Agreed, 100%. [thumbup]

bosco

[thumbup][thumbup][ninja]

DickD

I have to agree too. For some reason teachers are no longer allowed to kick students out of class.

newspostreader

Sometimes people look for things to complain about. These officers build relationships with these kids. The kids learn to trust them. Then they get accused of racism. Maybe we start looking for the good in cops instead of the bad.

C.D.Reid

Nowhere in the article did I see it explained just how the SROs "perpetuate the dehumanization and criminalization of Black and brown students across the United States and in Frederick County,” More blm hogwash.

bosco

And hogwash is why you won't see it explained. [ninja]

C.D.Reid

Yep. There's some mighty clean hogs around here.

bosco

No kidding. You should see the kickback and deflection when I posted some links to Bidenz flip flops on fracking, his pledge to raise taxes, and free health care for illegal aliens. It's all there on one of today's letters.

[thumbup][ninja]

Lemmy

Prepare for some teacher beat-downs.

Reader1954

interesting the SRO program got started because of school shootings - as far as I can remember was done by white kids. So now that the SRO's was a way for kids to iinteract with a police office on a positive note they are being hijacked by the BLM and injecting raceism into the situation

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

Piedmontgardener

In a country where school shootings happen regularly, I'm delighted that this program exists in Frederick County. It should not be tampered with at all.

cms10422

Absolutely true. This program is a blue ribbon program and the amount of lives that it has positively affected is huge. Why we would make such a knee jerk reaction to something is wrong in another part of the country is just wrong on all levels. Let's not let a few negative voices ruin a great thing that is happening in Frederick County!

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

cyntiast

Exactly. There is a REASON there are SRO in the schools. Have people forgotten already?

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

FcpsAdmin2

Some SROs have stopped shootings (so have teachers, parents, principals, etc). Other SROs (like the ones in Parkland) ran away and hid. There's nothing about the armed SRO program in particular that stops shootings. Parents and other adults generally (whether they are SROs or not) who engage with kids make the difference.

MD1756

As a tax payer who helps fund it, I never liked it in the first place. What are the parents teaching their children about acceptable behavior. Maybe that's part of the problem. It seems like this day and age people treat their children more like pets. Have them then at the earliest time pass them off to someone else to take care of while they go back about their business. How much time do parents spend with their children during the week apart from sleeping in the same house, condo, apartment, trailer, etc. The money spent on the SROs should be spend on actual education. What is the cost/benefit of the program versus spending that money on the actual education?

HappySeller2014

Hard to put a $ value on keeping FCPS safe, keeping FCPS kids from being injured/killed, and providing role models to needy kids.

But the benefits FAR outweigh the costs. We are talking 18 staff positions here. We are getting a tremedous ROI from these SROs.

awteam2000

Shooting in this country is a real problem. Way too many guns, way too many shooting. Guns are available to everyone , anyone. But that’s a different column.

Let’s just ignore the root problems that lead to having SRO’s in schools. No one seems to see that easy access to firearms, legally or illegally, threatens their own children in schools and on the streets.

Is the purpose of SRO’s to prevent outside intruders or to police children in schools? Are students looked at as potential criminals? Behavioral problems in schools need to be addressed but are cops the right solution?

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