|Brunswick High School School Resource Officer – John Roma: Contact Officer Roma
Brunswick Police Department
|The School Resource Officer (SRO) program is the next step in Community Oriented Policing (COP). The SRO is an asset used by the community and the school in an attempt to address situations in the lives of students in a forum other than the judicial system.The School Resource Officer program (SRO) is a nationally accepted program involving the placement of a law enforcement officer within the educational environment. The officer, while in school, is involved in a variety of functions aimed at prevention. Besides being an active high profile law enforcement officer, the SRO is a resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law issues. Another duty for the SRO is being a link to other service agencies which provide preventive and counseling services within the school district. Working hand in hand with the Principal in each school, the SRO assists with finding solutions to problems affecting school age children of the new millennium.
The SRO program is a proactive approach to deal with the pressures today’s young people find themselves having to confront. This includes the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, along with peer pressure, gang activity, and sex. These situations are not only in the schools, but in the community as well. The approach of addressing these issues only in the school, or only in the community, has not been completely effective. Traditionally, police and school did not interact until one called upon the other.
Are the Schools so bad we need SROs?
This is a question that is common with parents, teachers, and community leaders. The question is easily answered when you ask yourself the following: Wouldn’t you rather send your child to a school where there is an active law enforcement officer on duty, working with the school system, who acts quickly to solve problems?
The Brunswick School system, and the Brunswick Police Department, are working together to confront problems our students must face now. By addressing these issues together and proactively we become increasingly effective.
Throughout the United States each year over 200,000 violent crimes occur on school property. Each year 150,000 students stay home because they are “sick of violence and afraid they might be stabbed, shot, or beaten”. Every day in the U.S. 60 teachers are assaulted and 160 are threatened. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 135,000 guns are brought to school each day. During the school year, 91% of urban schools, 81% of suburban schools, and 69% of rural schools identified student vs. student assaults as the leading school related violent act.
Although most statistics are nationwide, we can see the trend. An SRO, if utilized correctly, should be the first line of defense against gangs, drugs, alcohol, and school violence. The Supreme Court recognized the effects that gangs and drugs have in our schools and have ruled that “gangs and drugs” are inherently dangerous. They have also stated that every student in the United States has the right to feel safe while attending school.
Through prevention programs, it is hoped that in Brunswick, we can reverse the trends that are hurting our youth and education. The school system understands and believes that we hold the future of youth in our hands.
What do SROs do ?
One of the most important aspects of the SRO program is the ability of the officer to develop teamwork in fighting many problems that students of today are facing.
The basic outline of duties for the SRO includes investigating crimes that occur within the school and on school property, creating a positive role model for students, creating a link between law enforcement and the students, and being a resource for parents, staff, administration, and students in regards to law enforcement and community problems.
The SRO works with the School Administration, Educators, and Counselors. The role each plays is dependent on the needs of the situation. Like many adults, some students view police officers solely as enforcers of the laws. Students that have positive interaction with SRO’s view law enforcement in an entirely different light. They see the SRO as a friend, and advisor, and positive role model, and someone to turn to in time of need.
The SRO also acts as a deterrent to criminal behavior through positive interactions with students and by his or her presence on the school campus.
The SRO is available as a guest speaker or as a resource to nearly every classroom within the school.
Government and Law – Search & Seizure, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law, Consumer Law, etc.
The SRO is a resource for both faculty and students and provides informal counseling and/or advice. These officers have received extensive training regarding programs and services available to handle problems and conflicts. Getting the right kind of help to those that need it is one of the SRO’s highest priorities.
Any law related issue that arises on campus is the SRO’s responsibility. In many ways, his/her school is no different than any other patrol beat. Whether it is child abuse, truancy, disorderly conduct, theft, or some type of assault, the SRO is there to handle it quickly and professionally. As a Community Police Officer, the SRO is charged with proactively addressing the crimes that occur on campus, both through education and through special projects or programs. Every school is different, so each SRO must tailor his/her projects to both the problem and the school.
Mentoring, is the central focus of the program. SROs have the opportunity to form lasting impressions on young people. To help students succeed, the SRO provides guidance, tutoring, and coaching to students with special needs or problems.