SROs Are More Than Just Security Guards [OPINION]
The logic behind wanting to remove the police from our schools escapes me, as I indicated in a piece I wrote yesterday. The New Bedford School Committee conducted what turned out to be a not-so-public hearing on the matter last evening.
Why the hearing was not posted for streaming on the School Department's website is beyond me.
In yesterday's piece, I explained the value of School Resource Officers in terms of protection during these times of school shootings and gangs. I also explained that having officers in the schools establishes trust between the police and students and allows the officers to gather intelligence that could prevent trouble.
Fairhaven Police Lt. Kevin Kobza, who served as a School Resource Officer early in his career, told me the role of an SRO is much deeper than that. Lt. Kobza said SROs are "non-stop busy all year," not just when school is in session. He said the officers are routinely contacted after-hours by teachers and guidance counselors "with reports of bullying, sex assaults, drugs, domestic violence, sexting, and the list goes on and on."
Lt. Kobza said the public would be surprised "if they only knew the number of hours and SRO puts in every day." He said SROs get calls at night "if a guidance counselor finds a student posted something of concern on social media." Those social media posts could include anything from suicidal thoughts to confiding that a student had been abused or victimized.
When notified, Lt. Kobza said, an SRO will "jump into action" and make calls to "assemble a team for the following morning" to get out ahead of the situation. He said being an SRO is more than "being a security guard, it's very, very involved."
School Resource Officers play a vital role in our schools. School officials should be looking for ways to expand this valuable program rather than entertaining suggestions to eliminate it.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.