The Hinsdale, N.H., Police Department, in collaboration with the Hinsdale School District, applied for a $125,000.00 grant for the implementation of a school resource officer program in the school district. The grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services program is for a period of three years with the community agreeing to continue the program for another year upon the expiration of the grant. In determining the grant, all figures and costs were included in the application process. This included salary, benefits, uniforms, equipment, and training.
The school resource officer is a member of the school staff as well as a member of the police department. The officer is stationed within the school and follows the triad concept, which is the model that the National Association of School Resource Officers supports. In this concept, the school resource officer is a resource to students, staff, and school administrators as a law-related counselor, and a resource to teachers as a guest instructor in their classes to enhance their lesson plans for their students in law related topics such as constitutional law or other applicable topics. The SRO would be the perfect complement to a constitutional law class to be able to teach the nuances of search and seizure and Miranda to the students so they get a true representation of these subjects. Then the officer is a law enforcement officer and will deal with truancy issues and crimes that are committed on the school campus. The officer will be more of a mentor and resource to the students.
The SRO is not a school disciplinarian; this is the job of school administrators and will continue to be. The memorandum of understanding between the police department and the school district that was required by grant administrators is very specific and identifies the roles and responsibilities of the SRO and the supporting agencies. In area school districts and districts across the country that employ school resource officers it is reported that there is not a significant increase in arrests in schools with SROs. There would more likely be less as the SRO would work with students through education and other alternative programs to prevent this. Students are not criminalized when there is an SRO in the building. As a member of the police department, if there is a major event in the community, the SRO is readily available to respond to that incident providing immediate additional manpower.
The New Hampshire juvenile justice system is very strict in regards to how juveniles are treated and dealt with, even in a school setting by an SRO. School officials may be able to interview students but an SRO would need to follow the same protocols set forth by our state.
Nationally and internationally the school resource officer program is expanding as we see the need and benefits of this program for our communities, school, and most importantly our students and children. In a 2011 Survey of 9th- through 12th-grade students by the National Center for Injury Prevention and control, 12 percent of students reported being in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months, 5.9 percent reported missing one or more days in the preceding 30 days because they felt unsafe at school or going to and from school, 5.4 percent reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife, or club) on school property on one or more days, and 7.4 percent reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property
There have been a lot of studies done regarding school resource officers and the Department of Justice has determined that this is a beneficial program for all communities and thus has helped communities start a program by providing assistance through this grant process. We are very fortunate to have been selected as a community to receive this grant and are asking for your assistance in providing the best for our community, our school, and most importantly our students and children. The SRO program is a collaborative effort between certified law enforcement organizations, educators, students, parents and the community to offer law related educational programs in the schools in an effort to reduce crime, drug abuse, violence, and to help provide a safe school environment which is conducive to learning. Please vote to accept this opportunity.
Todd Faulkner has been the police chief of the Hinsdale, N.H., Police Department since April 2012.