Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Editorial: Student resource officers should have positive effect on school communities

When Carroll County Public Schools resume today, each of the seven high schools will have for the first time an armed Student Resource Officer in the building.

The Maryland Safe to Learn Act, which was passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session in response to school shootings in Florida and Southern Maryland, requires that all public schools have an assigned SRO or plans for “adequate law enforcement coverage.”


Last year, beginning in March, deputies on overtime shifts were assigned to the county’s high schools. While not exactly the same as a full-time SRO program, this move seemed to have been generally positively regarded by students, teachers and parents.

In Carroll County, three high schools to start the year will have a designated SRO — an experienced deputy from the Sheriffs’ Office who has completed specific training developed by the Maryland Center for School Safety, including single officer response to active assailants, de-escalation, disability awareness, maintaining a positive school climate, constructive interactions with students, implicit bias, and disability and diversity awareness with specific attention to racial and ethnic disparities.


The other four high schools will have a full-time law enforcement presence, with experienced deputies on rotating overtime shifts. The long-term plan is for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Offices to hire new deputies the pool of academy graduates and transfers from other departments. As these new hires come on board, it will allow Sheriff Jim DeWees to move more experienced deputies into dedicated SRO roles.

Hopefully, these School Resource Officers will never have to pull their firearm because of an active shooter on similar situation in a Carroll County school. But in addition to the primary task of protecting students, teachers and everyone else in the school building, we hope the SRO programs will have other net positive effects in their school communities.

Unlike the overtime shifts, where the deputy may not be the same one at the same school day-to-day, full-time dedicated resource officers will have an opportunity to get to know students, and vice versa.

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For one, the officer can hopefully provide a positive role model for students. There may also be times when the officer may, as a guest speaker to a group, be able to add expertise or real-world practical uses of lessons being taught in the classroom.

But also, a consistent presence will make the officers more approachable to students and positive relationships can be formed. It’s another adult ear within the school community that students can go to with their concerns.

“It’s not about locking kids up, it’s about creating a healthier culture,” Sheriff Jim DeWees told us of the SRO program.

Certainly, there are some questions from parents skeptical about having cops in schools, including worries about student discipline being handled by law enforcement rather than school system administration.

Based on the Program Roles and Authority document between CCPS and the Sheriff’s Office, there is a clear line of demarcation regarding when law enforcement should step in and it’s important it is followed in order for the SRO program to be successful.


Teachers and administrators shouldn’t be calling on the officers to handle routine disruptions in the classroom and misbehavior. When police interactions with students become mostly negative, it decreases the benefits of having an officer in the school.

Like anything new, it would be reasonable to expect some growing pains, but generally, we think Carroll County adopting an SRO program will be a positive for all involved.