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School Resource Officer or SRO

Having a SRO in each of Brookfield's schools.

In the wake of the terrible tragedy next door in Sandy Hook, there has been a lot of discussion about having a law enforcement officer in each school. 

In most parts of the country, having a police officer in the school is called a School Resource Officer or SRO.  A SRO is a law enforcement officer who has been assigned to a school.   The main purpose is to protect and serve the school community... to provide a safe and secure campus for the children, teachers and adminstrators.  This often includes the building, the parking lot and the school grounds. 

Abbott Tech, in Danbury, (being a state school)  had a uniformed, armed State Trooper at the entrance to the school for years and a State Police car parked prominently in the front of the school.  Many areas of the country have had SROs serving their schools for years, even decades now.

Besides the protection and law enforcement duties, the SROs become a liaison between the police department and the school community.  In some communities, they function in the role of ombudsman to create a positive impression of the police force.  Depending upon the community's wishes, some SROs (especially if there is more than one officer in a large school) spend time giving safety instruction, counseling students and being a mentor and role model to the students.  A well trained SRO, who was well liked and trusted by the students, could have a significant impact on behavior and especially alcohol and drug behavior.

What a SRO is NOT is a school disciplinarian.  If a school incident is a possible law enforcement violation, the SRO can be contacted to determine if law enforcement action is appropriate.  An SRO does not do things like lunchroom or hall duty.

Unfortunately, America is not the country that we grew up in.  Andy Griffith, of Mayberry, USA, and Barney, his 'trusted' deputy with the one bullet in his shirt pocket... is a lovely memory of how we used to live.  In light of the reality of the country that we have become, we need to strongly consider having an armed, uniformed police officer in each of our schools.

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Ray DiStephan January 03, 2013 at 04:33 PM
One correction... Our Police Officer is formally called a "Youth Officer" and is not formally an "SRO". However, his role is very similar in many was to an SRO. Duties include safety programs and education, drug and alcohol laws education, liaison to juvenile court, truancy issues. He has a flexible schedule which allows him to attend games, events, etc. An SRO is typically assigned to a particular building and receives specialized training - Our Youth Officer moves between our schools as needed and is not assigned to any one building. I have been informed that Brookfield has never had a formal "SRO" either through the Police Dept. or BOE budget.
Ray DiStephan January 03, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I agree with that articulation, however... during budget development there are many budget "proposals" - the superintendent's, the BOE's, the BOS's, etc). These budget proposals have been "cut" at various levels (the BOE may "cut" the Superintendent's proposal, the BOF may "cut" the BOE's proposal). These are accurate descriptions and represent the proper use of the word "cut". A Proposal can be "cut" just as a current budget may be "cut".
Rob Gianazza January 03, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Ray, thank you for the clarifications. I believe Gary Gramling is currently our Youth Officer. If memory serves, Joe Lamparelli was the Youth Officer before him. I believe the point Robin was making is that we should have armed officers at each school. Personally I do not believe this will make our schools any safer than they already are. We should all be aware that these security precautions were already implemented in the budgets presented by the Superintendent over the past several years.
Steven DeVaux January 03, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I would say the school social workers if any since it doesn't appear that they can deal - effectively - with problem students recommending them for counseling. The SRO will be much a much more effective way of dealing with student and staff safety, dollar for dollar, than school social workers.
Steven DeVaux January 03, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Rob, Thanks for clarifying that security precautions proposed were already funded and implemented over the last several years. It's important that the community is reminded of that fact.
Steven DeVaux January 03, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Robin, They are too busy watching the violent videos, listening to the violent music, going to the violent movies and playing violent video games since their mothers and fathers either permit and/or give them money for them...or worse even buy them. The true problem is parental permissiveness due to absentee parents who consider their adult toy collections and residence more important that the upbringing of the children they brought into this world and hence don't spend even dinner time with them any more - just leave $20 for the pizza delivery guy to feed their kids.
Kevin O'Connor January 03, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Dr. Appleby, while I do agree that SROs are important, I don't see evidence that they would make schools more safer. Columbine is a great example of this, there was a veteran police officer on duty in the school and while he did exchange fire, he had no backup to successfully take them down. He was, however, able to radio for assistance to get a response team en route to the school. Security situations like this would be very very difficult and dangerous to handle alone. Given the new resources of the schools (the panic buttons and the radios to be delivered tomorrow), I'm not sure a solitary guard would help. Even in terms of their position discouraging someone, that appears to not be the case for the two students at Columbine whom were likely aware of their SRO being present. The focus should be stalling a threat and getting a response team on scene ASAP. Which brings up the point if the other duties of a SRO are needed at all of our buildings (duties other than being an armed guard). I'm far not familiar enough with the full extent of their duties and their level of requirement at each building, but given that we don't even have one dedicated SRO at any building, nor there being a request for one until now, leads me to believe that there isn't a huge demand for these other duties. Even so, would the demand at each building warrant a dedicated SRO? My intuition tells me that a SRO would be much more utilized at WMS and BHS than at CES and HHES.
Dr. Robin Appleby January 03, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Mr. Lasser, thank you for the courteous question. I am sorry to take so long to get back to you but had a date for lunch with my grandchildren. As to funding the 4 SROs (one in each school), Chief Montgomery estimates that it would be about $ 300,000 per year, or slightly more than one half of one percent of the budget. As to how to pay for these police officers, without even the skeleton of a budget in front of us, it is way premature to get into the details of where to get the money, what trade offs to make, what is important. The town needs to have a set of the top 50-100 priorities. We have been working on this for a while. I think that protecting the citizens, esp. the young, is the FIRST priority of government.....more than all the fluff....Greenways, bike trails, new library building, new beach houses, artificial turf, buying more open spaces, etc. As I have said many times, I put the Police, Fire, Emergency Services and Town Crew as the FIRST priority (why town crew.....like they say, if you're having a heart attack and we dont plow to your door...the ambulance isnt getting through). Mr. Lasser, since we are trying to stay on topic, and not get dragged into the underbrush.....the topic is: having a police officer at each school....what do you think ?
Dr. Robin Appleby January 03, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Here is what we have become in America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEb18fkA-bU
Dr. Robin Appleby January 03, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Language warning on the Black Friday video above....either remove your child or turn off the sound. This youtube video is a snapshot of the educated, productive, courteous citizens of America doing a little shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Imagine how life will be if these citizens had missed a few meals..........instead of a good deal on a $ 10 dollar toaster.
Steven DeVaux January 04, 2013 at 02:39 AM
That looked like BJ's.
Ken January 04, 2013 at 05:13 AM
This is a promo video by an on line retailer as a reason to shop on line and avoid the kind of mayhem that can occur at various Black Friday retailers. This video compilation is shocking because that is its intent. It is edited to be over the top and focus on shopper insanity. I think to say that this video describes what America has become is a bit harsh.
Steven DeVaux January 04, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Since the video is a compilation of public news channel videos see on the six o'clock news every night that shows "the kind of mayhem that can occur at various Black Friday retailers" why isn't that real? It focus' on "shopper insanity". Although it's not complimentary, have you seen some of the CSPAN footage our our "representatives"? Have you see some of the Charter footage of the First Selectman's meetings and what the First Selectman portrayed himself? Reality may be harsh, but it is reality.
John Mainhart January 04, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I don't believe that more safety measues will make our children safer for two reasons. the real cause of the violence is the fact that in general we do not teach our youngsters time honor values and make them responsible for their own behavior. The second reason is that once we put the police in charge of safety we will satisfy our natural desire to protect our children and that will be the end of it untill the next masscre. In a sense evil has already won if they make us concentrate on safety and don't address the real problem because any one knows that evil can beat any system designed to stop their desire to wreck havoc as long as the killer is willing to lose his life in the process.
Rob Gianazza January 04, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Nobody thought of using commercial airliners as weapons of mass destruction prior to September 2001. There will always be a "new and improved" way of mass killing. There is too much dependance upon the government to protect us. We need to teach our selves and our children to respect others and be wary of potential dangers. The schools responsibility is to teach our children academics. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children respect and moral character. It doesn't take a village, it takes loving and caring parents to raise a child.
Steven DeVaux January 04, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Could not have said it better John.
sock puppet January 04, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Has there ever been a generation in the history of the world that didn't look at the upcoming generation and say, "What happened to civility?" or "What happened to the good old days?" or "Back in my day we learned respect!" And yet it seems like the world trends towards the better. More equal rights for more people. More global prosperity (Look at India or Brazil 30 years ago...) Better technology. Longer lifespans. More leisure time. More opportunities in more places. The whole, "kids ain't learning the right lessons" just doesn't hold water. You're hearing about more violence, because there's more communication in the world and more people get to hear about the atrocities. What do you think would have happened if there had been internet during the Donner party fiasco? If Jews had tweeted from the camps? All you fogeys who fear the future are looking through a distorted lens. The younger generation is looking forward to bringing more civility and more tolerance to the world in general, so if you all could just retire and let us do that sooner, we'd be happy to provide you with the better world you so desire.
Steven DeVaux January 05, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Talk to the Americans on the west coast in internment camps. Everyone knew about them from day 1. Talk to the India girl who died last week that was gang raped. Talk to the girl who wanted to go to school and was stoned. Talk about all their rights. The world is different. Violence is idolitized. It's not the older generation that playing Black Ops II until sunrise eating cold pizza slices and drinking 5 hour energy drinks to stay awake.
Andrew Turkenkopf January 05, 2013 at 12:26 AM
I would offer my two cents about this, but it would probably be taken out of context, but just think tactically from both sides. And understand that no amount of protection will ever prevent acts of violence, so it is rather naive to put up a facade of safety while controlling the people with fear of things that rarely happen. Perhaps if children weren't so coddled from such a young age, protected from all dangers, not allowed to fight and tumble outside, get hurt, solve problems, learn through experience. Parents always rush in telling kids to share, or not to hit. Let it play out. It is how one learns. Tragedies happen, and when they happen to ones you know it hurts more, but so is life. Maybe teach children self-defense and reasoning and awareness? I'm not sure. On a side point, while tragedies like what has happened are truly sad, what is even worse is US sponsored killings of children and civilians via drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, etc . . .That is a much more scary of a thing, Ponder that for awhile while your cry for restricted speech and increased police state. . . .
Andrew Turkenkopf January 05, 2013 at 12:27 AM
It is not the younger generation that canceled funding for the ARTS AND MUSIC education in schools, and enforced standardized tests, and got rid of daily gym and recess. . . ..
Ray DiStephan January 05, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Violent crime in United States, in fact all crime in the United States, has been on a steady decline for the last 40 years. The homicide rate is at its lowest level since 1964. Those are the facts. However, with the rise of cable news, the reporting of these violent crimes has multiplied at an exponential rate.
Andrew Turkenkopf January 05, 2013 at 02:37 AM
The American Police State = the true job creator!!!! http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-parents-call-for-secure-schools-4167264.php http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Armed-security-guards-on-radar-of-Greenwich-4168789.php Depending on how its done, just a person with firepower to bribe or co-opt or what not paid for by???? protecting "us" from something that happens so rarely it is a statistical blip. Using parent's fear ---> the most used tool of the past 100+ years
Kelly Anne January 05, 2013 at 04:19 AM
thanks to enlightened politicians who pass laws to keep weapons out of the hands of folks who should not have them !
Michael Gianfranceschi January 05, 2013 at 04:21 PM
sp/andrew, civility and tolerance are things that start locally and within ourselves, but reading your comments and posts over the months i see that you have neither, that being the case I don't want the world that you would provide keep it to yourself.
Dr. Robin Appleby January 05, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Hello Ben In replying to your post of Jan 4 @ 3:35 pm. I agree with you. My biggest fear/hesitation about having armed police presence in the schools, is getting the kids used to seeing police/military "everywhere", checkpoints, metal detectors, prison-like facilities....I worry that we are getting them used to living in a police state. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
Dr. Robin Appleby January 05, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Very well said Andrew. I read somewhere that "our" drones had blasted 17 wedding parties in Afganistan, amoung all the other killing they had done. If I was a Pakistani/ Yemeni/etc. I would be very upset about the drones from another country blasting our citizens, esp. the children.....yet until you, I have never seen a comment about that here. I also agree that you will never prevent all tragedies....on the playground, bus, school trips. We do have to worry about putting up a 'facade of safety' (good expression) and not really making them safer. I think that we do need to look at the 'root causes" of why their is so much decline in our society and also your suggestions about what to teach our children. Thank you for your incisive thoughts.
Steven DeVaux January 05, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Robin, FACT: Obama has signed off on over 300 strikes (almost one per day) last year - six times more than George Bush did in his entire second term. REASON BUSH DIDN'T? Concern over collateral damage.
Steven DeVaux January 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Celebrate today. In 1776, an anonymous book was published in Philadelphia called Common Sense. Written by Thomas Paine, it sold 500,000 copies in its first year when there were only 2.5 million colonists. That's 20% of the population. Think people were fed up and wanted to change their government? After looking at this year's budget proposal, perhaps it's time for more Common Sense. People should not be enslaved by taxes on their homes.
Missy February 01, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Let's get back on topic gentlemen, the question is whether we think SROs can save lives in the case of a shooting incident occurring in our schools. Minutes and even seconds are crucial in keeping our staff and students safe from harm, this we have learned over and over again. In addition, there is vast safety education they bring to schools. Let's focus on what we can control now, because guns and mental illness are not something we can change within the next few years or even decades. Be safe and be well.
Ryen February 01, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Isn't that the greatest "Newspeak" or "Doublespeak" when they work to increase the budget and then when they get a smaller increase than last year or a smaller increase than they asked for, they claim they "cut" the budget??? LOL Too funny! Another good one is when ALL the INCREASES do not go to the children at all, but to fund pensions, benefits, new hires, new contracts and the same from the past that were unfunded, unplanned for, unreasonable, and poorly conceived as part of (mainly) teacher unions and poor personnel negotiations and wildly optimistic ideas about the "rainy days" they thought would never come....sad....

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