School Resource Officer programs have gained in popularity over the past 40 years, with their origin traced as far back as the 1950s and ’60s. I first wrote about and advocated for an SRO program in Frederick County schools in the early ’80s. While with the sheriff’s office in the early ’90s, I made an unsuccessful attempt to secure funding for an SRO program, and later, I was with the Department of Justice COPS Office where we funded SRO positions and provided training to SROs and school administrators nationwide.

I have been a proponent of and written in support of SROs for over four decades now, but realize it is time to take an objective look at these programs to see if they are actually accomplishing what we want. Particularly during the evolution of the community policing philosophy, the role of the SRO was to build relationships with students, teachers, school administrators and parents to work in collaboration to solve problems in and around schools.

As police departments moved to get officers out of their cars and on foot and bike patrols and incorporate other ways to increase positive interaction between police and community members, it was believed that constructive officer interactions with students in schools could bring about lasting positive relationships. The role of the SRO was not that of enforcer but that of a resource to be drawn on to assist in mentoring, informal counseling, team teaching, identification of at-risk students to be appropriately referred and other positive relationship-building activities.

Although the SRO is a sworn law enforcement officer and can be called on to provide security and enforcement measures, that was not intended to be their primary function. In the wake of 9/11 and a rash of school shootings, this seems to have changed with the role of disciplinarian and enforcer gaining prominence.

SROs should not be an arm of a school’s disciplinary apparatus, a function better left to school administrators. Involving the SRO in a school’s routine disciplinary function can inhibit efforts at building a trusting relationship with students and contribute to invoking the juvenile justice system when a school’s administrative remedies could provide a better outcome.

In recent years, we have begun to see evidence that SROs are taking on more of an enforcer role and their increased involvement in the school’s disciplinary process may be contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline that has a disparate impact on minority students. Nationally, regionally and now in Frederick County we have seen a disproportionate number of Black students arrested in our schools. During the 2017-2018 school year, 12 percent of the county’s student population was Black, while it represented 43 percent of school-based arrests. Students with disabilities were 11 percent of the student population and represented 23 percent of school-based arrests.

We have seen demands for the elimination of SRO programs nationally and in nearby Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Here in Frederick County, both proponents and opponents of SROs have presented compelling stories in support of their positions.

Anecdotal stories are useful and should not be ignored, but decisions to keep, modify or abandon SRO programs must be based on sound research and reliable data. It is time for a comprehensive, objective examination of Frederick Country’s SRO program and a determination as to whether it is accomplishing what we want it to.

Karl Bickel, formerly second in command of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and former assistant professor of criminal justice is retired from the U.S. Department of Justice and writes from Monrovia. He can be reached at KarlBickel@comcast.net.

(56) comments

JerryR

It's pretty simple people, if the parents of the disruptive children raised their children correctly, you wouldn't need SRO's, period. The problem is that the parents don't raise their kids to take accountability and responsibility for their actions. Pretty common sense stuff! Of course the progressives don't get that since they believe in the safe space crap and blame everything on everyone else except the common denominator, the parents and how they raise their children.

mcrider

“.... in Frederick County we have seen a disproportionate number of Black students arrested in our schools.“

Disproportionate ? as to what ? Maybe it’s time for an “objective examination” (has been done already, many studies and crime data) as to who commits “most of” the crime, both nationwide, and in the schools. It is a proven statistical fact that blacks commit a “disproportionate” percentage (well over 50% though making up only 12-13% of the total US population) of violent crime. To bring up that point, is NOT being “racist”, it is being factual.

bosco

And the liberals would have you believe that the arrest numbers must be proportionate to the population, and thus somebody is going to get a pass based on their race. That may be all and good unless you are a victim in one of these cases. Plus, what would that be teaching the kids about "equal justice" under the law? It's an issue that most people don't want to touch for fear of being called out as racist.

[ninja]

phydeaux994

bosco, you are so sensitive about being called a Racist. But by any definition you are a Racist. Your comment above proves that you consider the Black race to be “different” than your race and do not meet the standards of your race, a.k.a. inferior, because they cause crime out of proportion to their race. That IS THE DEFINITION of Racism. And that’s why many folks here call you Racist. So what’s your beef? You are what you constantly prove yourself to be. Stop talking Racist = Stop being Racist. BTW, it would be helpful if you would give us your definition of Racist. Thanks. ✌️

bosco

Why are you so fixated on crying racist about someone and then setting out to try to prove it from your own twisted projections that have become facts in your own mind? What is racist about wanting laws to be equally applied to all citizens instead of some quota system? Which criminal would you let skate because their arrest quota had been met? Put yourself in the shoes of the victims of crime and tell us who should not be protected. You? Your spouse? Kids? Grandkids? Who?

You are not seeing things are THEY are but as YOU are.

Try a ride along with law enforcement or volunteer in an inner city school. It might open your eyes to the real world and not the cable TV world.

I wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for.

✌️

phydeaux994

Temper, Temper bosco. Tell us why you THINK you are NOT A RACIST!! And for Pete’s sake talk about your own “PROJECTION”. Look in the mirror bosco. This is what you will see...... .......did you see it???

threecents

Bosco is not racist. He just likes pushing some of the same buttons racists push.

bosco

Thank you, threecents, it's hard being in the center because somebody's always mad.

Fido seems to have an unhealthy fixation on me, my life, and what activities I choose to share here - such as his derision about me riding a Harley. That morphed in his mind to where I was bragging about wearing colors and going to wet T-shirt contests and then his own fantasies became his truths. It all started years ago when I called out thugs and gangstas for being just that, thugs and gangstas. He cried racist and continues.

We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

✌️[ninja]

JerryR

Bosco, it's the mantra of the left...pull the race card out at all costs!! These Ding Dongs want to defund the police until someone busts into their home....and then you know what happens...

bosco

Fido, thank you for posting your confession to knowingly violating most of the forum rules. If you tried to sell something here, you would have a clean sweep.

Forum Rules:

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.

bosco

Don't worry about your deleted manifesto Fido. I saved a copy before it was deleted and I'll be happy to share it anytime!

[ninja]

MD1756

The LTE writer writes "The role of the SRO was not that of enforcer but that of a resource to be drawn on to assist in mentoring, informal counseling, team teaching, identification of at-risk students to be appropriately referred and other positive relationship-building activities."

Why would schools need that when they already have school counselors (who can provide informal counselling as well as formal counselling. Why pay for something twice especially if the SRO may be less well trained at what the LTE wrote as their role? SROs are an expensive and wrong solution to the problem they more recently were hired for (protect the students from themselves or people directly related to the school in one way or another). It seems to me that more parents should be spending more time with their children to provide oversight and guidance as they grow. Changes have to start at home.

threecents

Yah, I also thought Karl was describing a counselor when he described what he thought an SRO used to be, which also did not make sense to me. The question remains as to whether we want SROs, councilors or both, and what level of training is needed. I am sure Terry Alban and the School Board have been thinking about that question for years.

TomWheatley

My apologies for an off topic comment, but it would appear the print version has beaten out the online version in not reporting Justice Ginsbergs' passing. Coming up on almost 24 hours now.

Boyce Rensberger

Wow. You are so right. I get the print version and didn't even bother to check the online front. What a failure of journalism. I'm guessing that Ogden cut the budget so much that the paper can't afford a weekend staff for the online edition. Sad.

TomWheatley

And I hate to see such a feisty lady leave us, but at 87, there comes a time for all of us.

TomWheatley

And oddly enough, I see some newer articles posted with the last 10 hours, but still radio silence on any coverage of Justice Ginsberg.

MD1756

I guess you all missed the AP wire stories "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

By MARK SHERMAN Associated Press Sep 19, 2020" link. The first comment was posted by threecents Sep 19, 2020 1:51am.

TomWheatley

No, but was expecting a Breaking News banner and not having to search for it like other articles in the past.

threecents

Tom[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]I have seen no articles in the print version and I have only found online articles if I do a search. What the heck?

DickD

You are right, Karl, but what really causes minority students to get into trouble? Is it just the fact of discrimination or something else like many being in single family homes

We really need a study on that

My suspicion is it is caused by numerous factors. The two I mentioned and others like peer pressure and drugs. It would be very interesting to review all cases.

If it is police discrimination we need more training. Peer pressure might be something a SRO officer could help with. Drugs are an ongoing problem that should have been given more attention. The single parent could be helped with mentors as role models. Sports involvement could help too.

Boyce Rensberger

There is a large body of research addressing this very issue. The studies generally agree that Black kids get more severe punishments for exactly the same offense than do White kids. If you're serious in wanting to understand this, search the web using "racial discipline gap" and read a few of the studies that come up.

NewMarketParent

@Boyce

That is exactly why I am on the side of removing them. The old saying is that when all you have is a hammer, than everything looks like a nail. If your only way of dealing with a behavioral problem is a security guard or in school police officer...

HappySeller2014

NewMarketParent, out in the real world, and outside of schools, the police protect us, ensure order and peace, and respond to criminality. So, why is it so bad to have them in schools as well (whether police, off-duty officers, or simply guards)? I see guards in hospitals. In drug stores. At public sponsored events. At local festivals. At bank lobbies. At 5k and 10k races. At casinos. At bars...

NewMarketParent

@HppySeller2014

I don't know how you think of police, but I think of police as the people there to help society when people cannot seem to follow the rules themselves.

I am not in favor of a police state and police in schools is another step towards that. I don't feel like we need a nanny state. We have been doing just fine and handling ourselves at every point in history previous to this one. What has changed?

bosco

Happy seller, visible law enforcement in a community does not equate to a police state and that may be where people get confused. By definition:

po·lice state

/pəˈlēs ˈstāt/

noun

a totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

[ninja]

MD1756

NMP, regarding your comment about police how one thinks of police. Sure, a majority of their job is probably law enforcement (active or passive just by being seen), however, they do more than just enforce the laws (which is a good thing and if one is law abiding, it shouldn't be feared (that's not to say there aren't bad cops who have different standards of enforcement for different people and those cops should be dealt with as harshly as if they were criminals). One obvious example is traffic safety when there is an accident or power goes out. Other examples are searching for missing people (such as the elderly who may have dementia. or bringing bad news as they did the end of January at past 11:00 pm to let me know my brother had been found dead at work (from natural causes). Those are just some obvious examples beyond simple law enforcement.

bosco

Right on, DickD. I said essentially the same thing, although not quite so elegantly, and Fido called me a racist. Interesting. ✌️

phydeaux994

I have called you a Racist (it’s a description bosco, not an epithet), many times when you unfairly disparage people of other races, which you do frequently. It’s not personal, like I called you stupid or something. I will continue to do that to anyone who makes Racist statements. Peace.✌️

bosco

Your projector is overheating there Fido. I do not disparage people because of their race, but I will call out crooks and criminals for their behavior. A gangbanger is a thug, and even Biden has called them out.

Surely you don't think someone should get a pass just because of their skin color do you?

✌️

[ninja]

phydeaux994

You certainly believe that, right bosco? I don’t believe that you, or CD, or any other Racists believe that you are guilty of anything!! It’s all the Black people’s fault. No, I don’t believe that ANYONE should get a pass because of their skin color. Although I think that’s what “White Privilege” is????😂🤣😷un freakin believable...!!!

NewMarketParent

@phydeaux994

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

A hit dog gonna hollar...

bosco

...A hit dog gonna hollar......what a apt description of Fido and his rants trying to project his own inadequacies and prejudices onto others. He uses plenty of descriptons and epithets directed at people he doesn't even know. A hit dog gonna holler. I like it.[thumbup][ninja]

phydeaux994

So it’s only me that rants and projects my inadequacies and prejudices onto others bosco? Or only Liberals that project (your new favorite word)🥴their inadequacies and prejudices onto others? Methinks you protest too loudly bosco. Peace.✌️

NewMarketParent

@phydeaux994

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Reek first decided to put up an avatar of a black person ONLY after I did. Reek then has decided to start using my vernacular. Reek wants to be a POC so bad. He will probably start learning the "Hippity Hop" moves right up until arrested. Then, he will switch back to his normal color to get back into his safe space.

HappySeller2014

Karl, time to stop reminiscing about growing up in the 1980s, when kids fought with just their fists. Some still do, but now they kill at the GFF on "FCPS" day. Others make mass violence threats against Catoctin High or shoot up FCPS HS sporting event environments.

You say SROs have become more of an enforcement mechanism in FCPS schools. GOOD! With a large segment of parents running around blaming everyone but themselves for their inadequacies as parents, SROs are desperately needed to fill the void.

When you reach your nirvana of all parents holding their kids responsible for their actions, raising them right, and enforcing discipline inside and outside the home, let me know. I am not holding my breath.

TomWheatley

Actually, we had a few knives during the riots back in the early 70s. We quickly figured out it was outsiders coming into our school to cause problems and the kids banded together to solve that.

KarlBickel

HappySeller2014, As I said in the piece, anecdotal stories are not to be ignored but should not be the basis for decision making.

HappySeller2014

Not anecdotal stories, Karl. Real examples. So you going to discount shootings outside Frederick High, mass threats against Catoctin High, prostitution cells uncovered in FCPS schools, school-age kids killing folks at the GFF with their fists, and sporting events needing to be postponed/revised due to threats as "anecdotal?" Situations such as those I have mentioned happen frequently throughout FCPS...even with SROs trying to protect our children.

You bury your head in the sand Karl you not helping anyone. As someone who continually runs for public office, you should know that. Do us a favor...go talk to some Black, Hispanic or non- White SROs throughout FCPS and let me know if they think they are a detriment to our children or promoting systematic racism or inequality. I am curious what you hear.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

So the natural response should be to ignore the personal arms race and just throw up our hands and accept it?

How about we work about more sensible gun laws that keep those guns out of all hands but those who pass background checks and periodic testing.

One of the reasons for their existence in schools is because they have become so ubiquitous.

The other problem is that kids that bring them usually bring them for 1 of 2 reasons. One is the wow factor. The other is to either intimidate or hurt other students. That is a problem that would be better solved with identification of kids that display those tendencies and psychological help.

Almost every time we hear about a school shooting, it is a person that was failed by a series of adults around them who saw the signs, but did nothing. We need to get those kids the help they need and SRO's typically are not the people who can do the most help in those situations.

HappySeller2014

So, NewMarketParent, you admit weapons in schools a problem. So, you supporting removing SROs from FCPS schools?

Not sure about your arms race and acceptance analogy, but as we all know in the military, world affairs, or even at the local level, a good defense is very often the best offense.

You expecting the rank-and-file teachers to safely and successfully handle gun issues in FCPS schools? How about prostitution rings? Threats so bad sporting and extracurricular activities need to be cancelled/postponed? Focusing on correcting home life issues in this day and age is like spitting into the wind. That train left the station two decades ago and has been chugging along in a tunnel with no light at the end of it. For the safety of all, if parents cannot control, discipline, raise or hold accountable their FCPS children, it falls on the good of society, including SROs, to step in.

Your cure is unrealistic. Even though this cure weighs a pound, a couple of ounces of prevention, in the form of SROs, is the solution here.

PurplePickles aka L&M

@NMP

Your response to HappySeller2014 is exactly how I would have responded to his post. You are me...and I am you. Vegas here we come. Are you looking forward to South Park on 9/30?

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

I support taking SROs out of schools and replacing them with more counselors and psychologists. Using police to enforce a nanny state is not what I want for my kids or others kids.

We are talking about children here, this isn't war. Unless we are talking about sports or war, I don't think the offense/defense is a great analogy.

I do expect staff to be able to deal with weapons in schools. I don't expect them to try to confront or directly disarm an armed student, but we know statistically the chance that it escalates to that is near zero. I also expect them to be able to deal with kids who threaten self-harm.

If there is a prostitution ring, the school would be a hub and not where 99% of that is going on. We already have law enforcement capable of dealing with that. If something like that was discovered, I am sure that authorities can be notified and brought in as appropriate.

If humans can't behave themselves properly in public, than we can't have nice things. I would rather not have them than create a police state. I am also not opposed to lifetime bans from events for bad actors.

We have steadily been stripping away funding from social safety nets for generations. Where do you think all of these great "Tax Cuts that pay for themselves" come from? I would rather spend money to educate a child and provide for their welfare than fund the prison we put them in when we fail them.

Just because YOU think my approach is unrealistic, doesn't mean it is. It just means YOU lack the imagination to see the world differently than YOU know it.

JerryR

NMP - just like all the libby's, blame everyone else for your poorly behaved children - typical, no accountability or responsibility for your own offspring.

Boyce Rensberger

As they say in medical research, "The plural of anecdote is not evidence."

HappySeller2014

Nope Boyce. Your quote is actually a misinterpretation of the original quote by Ray Wolfinger, a famed political scientist back in the day.

You may have heard the phrase "the plural of anecdote is not data (evidence)." It turns out that this is a misquote. The original aphorism, by the political scientist Ray Wolfinger, was just the opposite: "The plural of anecdote is data."

Wolfinger’s formulation makes sense. Data does not have a virgin birth. It comes to us from somewhere. Someone set up a procedure to collect and record it.

What I have shown is examples of actual occurrences in FCPS environments. Data points. Not anecdotes.

Boyce Rensberger

HappySeller2014 : Oh, I know. I was citing a quote I've often heard in evidence-based *medical* lectures. The researchers were explicitly refuting the aphorism of Wolfinger, who was a political scientist, not a medical scientist. Political science may rely on heaps of anecdotes; good medical science does not. The best studies of racial disparity in school discipline are not medical science, they are social science, but they use the same methods as does medical science.

Anecdotes can be good tips that lead a researcher to formulate a hypothesis, but not to write a conclusion. The hypothesis informs the development of specific research methods that then must be followed to get data.

Data do not come from collections of anecdotes. They (yes, "data" is a plural) come from research projects that were designed in advance to seek certain kinds of facts. Only by following the research design can one collect facts in a way that ensures the many facts being lumped together are apples and apples. (An anecdote could throw in an orange.) In other words, for the study to be meaningful, you gotta base your conclusions on the specific kinds of facts you intended in advance to collect. Otherwise it's too easy to be led astray.

HappySeller2014

Fair enough Boyce. Your points are well taken and your post thoughtfully written.

Boyce Rensberger

Thanks, HappySeller2014. Nice to have some friendly discourse and agreement here.

phydeaux994

How did SRO’s have anything at all to do with the examples you refer to? The young lady at Catoctin and the attack at the GFF took place away from schools and the shooting at Frederick was out of school hours when SRO’s are not there. Are there records of minorities being arrested for the same incidents that White students are not arrested for? I would think that there is monitoring of all incidents to be sure there is no bias for similar incidents. We must be sure that that is the case.

HappySeller2014

You just made my point. Even with SROs currently in FCPS schools, look what is happening within their proximities.

Maybe SROs are preventing some of this criminality spreading or leaking onto school grounds? Maybe they are effectively deterring bad actors and criminal activity at school sites? And maybe we are fortunate to have them at schools should needs arise?

If your neighbor's hunting dogs pee and poop in your yard, there is a chance your dog may get a case of the fleas or canine influenza or worms and bring these maladies into your house. So, you protect your dog with preventitive meds. In a similar fashion, SROs protect us from the maladies in society.

phydeaux994

First, what kind of incidents IN THE SCHOOLS have SRO’s stopped? Have minority students been punished more severely than White kids for similar incidents? Second, has the frequency and severity of the incidents justified the need for having a trained Policeman with arrest powers in every school in Frederick County? Do those seeking to take these Officers out of the schools have evidence to suggest that the presence of these Officers in each school is detrimental rather than helpful for all students. This information should be readily available from the FCPS Administration I would think. If not, don’t we need to get that information before we can make any decision as to whether the SRO’s are needed.

Hayduke2

Lot of maybes in your post. Can’t base decisions and arguments on maybes.

HappySeller2014

Phy, those questions are easy to answer. The answers are (1) many, and (2) yes, in all high schools and maybe some middle schools that are problematic. Roving, random check ins at all other schools would be recommended, especially at school start up and ending times.

Go ahead, try to prove me wrong.

Part of an SRO's duties is to be seen as a deterrant to nefarious and criminal activity. Just ask any police who have secondary jobs as guards or roving patrols at local businesses or community activities.

Look beyond the trees here Phy. You missing the forest my friend.

HappySeller2014

Just take out all my maybes, hayduke. SROs are doing all these things and we are thankful.

phydeaux994

Why are there NEVER any stories in the FNP about all these serious incidents, or any statistics published that back up your allegations? Where do you get your inside info HS? I don’t have a problem with SRO’s if they are there in the role that Mr. Bickle said was intended. But evidently minority students feel they are not treated fairly. It should be an easy task to look into the incidents to be sure that isn’t the case and present that information to the Public. OK?

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.

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