The Howard County Police Department announced on social media that they would be formalizing a long-standing effort of expanding police visits to schools. The Howard County School System has received a great deal of positive feedback supporting this effort, and there have also been concerns from the community about increased police presence in our school buildings and the role of School Resource Officers (SROs) and patrol officers.
The benefits to this program include:
Just as our partnership with Howard County Fire and Rescue serves to help our children feel safe and understand the role that firefighters play in a community, the presence of police officers as mentors in our buildings make them a critical part of the safety of that environment.
School administrators, staff, students and community members get to know the officers that are serving the school’s community.
Officers become familiar with the school’s floor plan in preparation for responding to an emergency.
There is not a budgetary impact on HCPSS.
Our Superintendent, Dr. Martirano, has encouraged police Chief Gardner to work with school administrators to establish times that students, staff, and members of the community may have opportunities to get to personally know the officers making visits.
In addition, over the past few days, students and community members have expressed concerns about the relationship between our schools and police, and we want to clarify the role of the officers during their visits.
Officers do not have the authority to enact disciplinary measures on students. The processes around officer response remain the same as they have always been - to respond to a perceived or active threat.
Officers are not involved in identifying students who may be undocumented citizens.
Officers will not be permitted in schools if they purposely adopt an intimidating or threatening presence. If students or parents feel there has been an incident of misconduct, you should contact me or any staff member immediately.