A local leader is changing his mind about the presence of officers in schools in the wake of the school shooting that killed 26 people last month in Newtown, Conn.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Cory Stewart originally pushed to cut the number of police officers in county schools due to budget problems. He estimated the cuts could save around $500,000 in the new fiscal budget.
However, Stewart is now pushing to increase the number of school resource officers throughout the county.
“Originally, I had anticipated moving some of the school resource officers out of middle schools and back on patrol,” says Stewart, who explains that the Connecticut school shooting changed his mind on the proposal.
Currently, all of the county’s 11 high schools have their own resource officers. The county’s middle schools share just a few officers.
Stewart now wishes for all middle schools to have SROs and to have rotating SROs in elementary schools.
“We can always do better,” he says. “We are going to look at ways to improve school security, even if (it) means spending a little bit more money on that.”
According to Stewart, the county is in the process of reviewing all school security procedures.
He was against them before he was for them? The truth of the matter is, the School Resource Officers should have never been cut from Mr. Stewart’s budget. Did he talk to anyone in the know about how valuable these officers are to a school? For instance, does he realize that in a middle school, the SROs are like rock stars to the kids? The kids love those officers. The SRO presence is one of the most positive influences in a community. They hear things from the kids, they are positive role models, they talk to parents when necessary and put out little fires before they become big ones.
Too many people now think that the SRO is going to be the “armed guard” of the school. Yes, the SRO is armed. He or she is a uniformed police officer. However, to think of reducing this valuable person to being just an armed guard is very much a waste of valuable school personnel.
Hopefully, Corey will continue to push to have School Resource officers in all middle schools and rotate the officers in elementary schools. I hope he learns the value of what he is suggesting so that his words aren’t just a hollow political moving mouth in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.