In 2008, the Caroline County Sheriff's Office partnered with the Caroline County Board of Educaiton to create a School Resource Officer (SRO) program to positively impact the relationship between law enforcement and the young people of the community. The program began with one Deputy serving Col. Richardson High School, located in the Southern end of the county.
Since then, the needs of the community have changed, and the role of the SRO has expanded to meet those needs. Today, we have two SROs, one covering each of the county's two high schools. SROs are a uniformed presence in the schools, taking incident and offense reports, investigating crimes that occur on school grounds, and gathering intelligence information about potential threats to the schools. At the same time, the SROs have retained their liaison, educational, and counseling roles, resulting in a full range of interaction with students on a daily basis.
Each of our SROs has completed formal School Resource Officer training sponsored by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). They also attend periodic refresher training sponsored by the Maryland Police Training Commission, both locally and nationally, to ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of this vital community service.
The following pertains to information regarding what a School Resource Officer's duties are; taking into account three main roles and responsibilities: law enforcement officer, law-related counselor, and law-related educator.Law Enforcement
1. Provide law enforcement and police services to the school, school grounds and areas adjacent to the school. Investigate allegations of criminal incidents per police department policies and procedures. Enforce state and local laws and ordinances. Make appropriate referrals to juvenile authorities or other governmental agencies.
2. Work to prevent juvenile delinquency through close contact and positive relationships with students. In addition the SRO shall develop crime prevention programs and conduct security inspections to deter criminal or delinquent activities. The SRO should monitor crime statistics and work with local patrol officers and students together to design crime prevention strategies
3. Establish and maintain a close partnership with school administrators in order to provide for a safe school environment. Assist school officials with their efforts to enforce Board Of Education policies and procedures. Ensure school administrator safety by being present during school searches, which may involve weapons, controlled dangerous substances or in such cases that, the student's emotional state may present a risk to the administrator. Assist school administrators in emergency crisis planning and building security matters. Provide a course of training for school personnel in handling crisis situations, which may arise at the school.
4. Be visible within the school community. Attend and participate in school functions. Build working relationships with the school's staff as well as with student and parent groups.
5. Develop and implement classes in law related education to support the educational efforts of the faculty. Work closely with teachers in designing and presenting law-related topics and the role of police in our society.
6. Work with guidance counselors and other student support staff to assist students and to provide services to students involved in situations where referrals to service agencies are necessary. Assist in conflict resolution efforts.
7. Initiate interaction with students in the classroom and general areas of the school building. Promote the profession of police officer and be a positive role model. Increase the visibility and accessibility of police to the school community.Law Related CounselorThe role of law-related counselor should not be unfamiliar to a School Resource Officer. Police officers conduct street level law related counseling on a regular basis. For example, a victim of domestic violence is given information on how to obtain a protective order, or an officer may attempt to mediate a dispute between two neighbors. Officers are frequently called upon to help resolve problems that are not necessarily criminal matters.
Similarly, guidance counselors will call upon the SRO to assist in conflict mediation efforts. Parents may seek information from the SRO if they suspect their child may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Students will ask the SRO for advice concerning a recent traffic ticket. Many times students will just want someone to talk to about problems that they are experiencing, and the SRO can act as another caring adult in the school building who works to find positive solutions for young people.
Law Related EducatorSchool Resource Officers will have contact with a majority of students in a school. SROs can serve as a resource for educators in the sharing of their experience and expertise as a law-related educator when they are invited into the classroom as guest speakers. Classroom presentations by an SRO compliment the schools curriculum as well as giving the SRO the opportunity to interact with students and discuss law-related issues. The contact that the SRO has with students in the classroom is a positive learning experience.
Law-related education is designed to promote responsible citizenship and give the student a better understanding of how our legal system works. As a police officer the SRO offers the student real life examples of how the criminal justice system operates. The SRO brings their experience into the classroom in order to educate the student on the role of police in a free society.
SROs support school wide efforts to educate students on the consequences of unacceptable behavior both in school and in the community. In addition the SRO works to educate students in crime prevention and personal safety. Teachers and SROs can create lessons that can compliment the school curriculum in almost every subject area. A few of the possibilities are:
SOCIAL STUDIES: Search and seizure, constitutional provisions of the 4th amendment, constitutional rights and their relevance to democracy, navigating the judicial process, understanding the adult and juvenile court systems.
SCIENCE: Crime scene investigation, forensics, use of polygraph, extracting fingerprints, DNA technology used as court evidence.ENGLISH: Police report writing.
HEALTH: Drug and alcohol awareness.
In addition to supporting the faculty in the classroom the SRO has the opportunity to provide other educational activities to the entire school community. The SRO provides crisis and emergency training to the faculty and staff. The SRO may conduct informational presentations to parent groups concerning emerging drug trends to which their children may be exposed. The SRO may speak to school clubs about driver safety issues.