In an informative and enriching forum, MCR executive board members and MCPS students and families were joined by Councilmember Evan Glass, Councilmember Will Jawando, Councilmember Hans Reimer, Sergeant Dan Helton, Chief of Police Marcus Jones, Officer Brandon McCloud, Officer Ed Clarke, and Washington Post reporter Rebecca Tan for a discussion and look into the role of SRO’s in MCPS.
Layna Teitelbaum and Vicky Kidder serving as moderators, the event began with a run down by Education Policy deputies on what SRO’s are, which schools have SROs, when SRO’s were implemented into MCPS and why, and how effective SRO’s have been.
Following this, each panelist briefly introduced themselves. Next, moderators, Layna, and Vicky proposed questions to the panelists put together by our Education Policy Department. Opening with “if you could tell the community one thing about the SRO program, what would it be,” participants heard from Chief Marcus Jones, Officer Brandon McCloud, and Officer Ed Clarke that the main goal of SRO’s is to keep students feeling safe and to build relationships with them, while Council members, Glass, Reimer, and Jawando admitted that as burdens put on SRO’s grow, the program has lost focus, and their duties may be better allocated to other positions (i.e. counselors, coaches, or school psychologists.)
With specific questions directed at different panelists, participants learned more about the Maryland Safe to Learn Act, we're given insight into the experience of an SRO’s and the perceived benefits of them in schools, heard about funding and reallocation of funds from the program, learned more about the responsibilities of SRO’s, heard about the shortcomings of the program, learned that the program has posed issues of equity, heard more about the training process and possible improvements to the training process, and listened to interesting observations from reporter Rebecca Tan about the intricate system and inevitable biases created by the presence of SRO’s in schools, and sentiments forming around the country to defund such programs.
After gaining valuable perspective and hearing from multiple points of view, the floor opened up to questions from the participants. Submitting questions through the zoom chat feature, participants asked why SRO’s need guns, what the program’s current budget is, whether there is a disparity between cases in the up and down county, what is being done to ensure SRO’s do their job without infringing on minority groups’ civil liberties, and what the need for SRO’s is if most violence in schools is addressed by security guards and staff, among others. The discussion and dialogue fostered through the forum lent intuition that will serve great value to all parties present.
Written by Abby Leibowitz
Published by PR Department