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In September of 1999 the Hopkinton Police entered into a partnership with the Hopkinton school system, to provide a School Resource Officer (SRO). Officer John J. Porter began his new assignment as the doors opened for another school year. In September of 2002, Officer David Shane, joined Officer Porter. In September of 2005 Officer Timothy Brennan was selected to be the High School SRO and Officer Phil Powers was selected to be the Middle School and Elementary Schools SRO. In 2007 the SRO program was cut to one position. Officer Powers became the SRO and covers all the schools.
WHAT IS A SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER?
The School Resource Officer program (SRO) is a nationally accepted program involving the placement of a law enforcement officer within the educational environment. The officer, while in school, is involved in a variety of functions aimed at preventing school violence, property damage and personal crime. Besides being an active high profile law enforcement officer, the SRO is a resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law issues. Another duty for the SRO is to be a link to other service agencies, which provide preventative and counseling services within the school district. Working hand in hand with the principal in each school, the SRO assists with finding solutions to problems affecting school age children today.
The SRO program is a proactive approach to dealing with the pressures today's young people find themselves confronting. This includes the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, along with peer pressure, gang activity and sex. These situations are not only in the schools, but in the community as well. The approach of addressing these issues only in the school, or only in the community, has not been completely effective. Traditionally, police and school did not interact until one called upon the other.
Children affected by substance abuse or gang activity in the community will be carrying that into the school, which in turn affects other students, educators and administrators.
ARE THE SCHOOLS SO BAD WE NEED SRO'S?
This is a question that is common with parents, teachers, and community leaders. The question is easily answered when you ask yourself the following: Wouldn't you rather send your child to a school where there is an active law enforcement officer on duty, working with the school system, who acts quickly to solve problems?
While there have been some concerns within and around Hopkinton Schools, an officer in the school is not a required necessity. Any time an officer is in an area, that officer's presence alone will usually deter behavior not normally accepted by society.
The Hopkinton School system, the Town of Hopkinton, and the Hopkinton Police Department are working together to confront problems our students must face now. By addressing these issues together and proactively we become increasingly effective.
Throughout the United States each year over 200,000 violent crimes occur on school property. Each year 150,000 students stay home because they are "sick of violence and afraid they might be stabbed, shot, or beaten". Every day in the U.S. 60 teachers are assaulted and 160 are threatened. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 135,000 guns are brought to school each day. During the 1992-93 academic year, 91% of urban schools, 81% of suburban schools, and 69% of rural schools identified student vs. student assaults as the leading school related violent act.
An SRO, if utilized correctly, will be the first line of defense against drugs, alcohol, gang and school violence. The Supreme Court recognized the effects that drugs have in our schools and have ruled that "gangs and drugs" are inherently dangerous. They have also stated that every student in the United States has the right to feel safe while attending school.
Through prevention programs in Hopkinton, we hope to reverse the trends that are hurting our youth and education. The police department and the school system understand and believe that we hold the future of youth in our hands.
One of the most important aspects of the SRO program is the ability of the officer to develop teamwork in fighting many problems that students face. The SRO works with many agencies, including T.O.A.D., S.A.D.D., substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, and parent, student, and staff counseling.
The basic outline for the SRO includes investigating crimes that occur in and around the school, creating a positive role model for students, creating a link between law enforcement and the students, and being a resource for parents, staff, administration and students in regards to law enforcement and community problems.
Based on our observations and community feedback we believe the SRO program has become a valuable asset to the police department, the school system and the community.
The SRO works with the administration, educators and counselors. The role each plays is dependent on the needs of the situation. A student with a suspected substance abuse problem is a different concern than a student being harassed or a student suspected of being involved in gang activity. No one person has the "final" say as to the solution to a situation, as each has a differing role, authority, and approach. The primary concern is the welfare of the student.
You can contact
Officer Powers by email or
call the Hopkinton Police
Department at 508-497-3401. All correspondence will be kept confidential.