FAQs: Howard County School Resource Officers (SROs)

What is the primary purpose of SROs?

The goal of the SRO program is to build positive relationships with students and staff while providing a safe school environment. SROs serve as mentors, coaches, teachers and volunteers to support students during and after school hours.

The SROs bridge gaps between youth and law enforcement, creating positive interactions and understanding that transcend the school environment. These officers focus on restorative justice and help at-risk youth change behaviors that might otherwise lead to involvement with the criminal justice system. The SROs also oversee emergency planning and response at each of their respective schools.

How many arrests and referrals are there in the schools?

Arrests and referrals are an absolute last resort in the schools and have been declining in numbers. Most disciplinary action is handled administratively by the schools.

  Suspensions Arrests/Referrals
2016-17 1,342 115 (22 in-custody, 93 paper referrals)
2017-18 1,430 88 (17 in-custody, 71 paper referrals)
2018-19 1,225

72 (12 in-custody, 60 paper referrals)

 

How are arrests and referrals handled in schools?

More than 80 percent of arrests are non-custodial, meaning students are not handcuffed or taken into custody. Instead, most are simply released to a guardian with a referral to appear at a later time. The HCPD offers a juvenile diversion program called Teen Court, which focuses on restorative justice and keeps young people out of the judicial system. Instead, first-time misdemeanor offenders can be diverted to Teen Court to face a jury of their peers. The teen jurors hear cases and render dispositions. The juveniles stay out of the traditional court system and have the opportunity to move forward without a criminal charge on their records.

What types of incidents do SROs handle?

In most incidents, an SRO is called by an administrator, teacher or other staff member to assist. In cases of last resort that result in arrest, most are incidents of violent behavior, usually attacks on other students. SROs also address drug dealing and possession in the schools, and disorderly conduct to a degree that disrupts school activities.

What do the SROs do outside of the schools and in the summer?

The SROs oversee many youth programs outside of school hours, including:

  • P.L.E.D.G.E Leadership Camp
  • Community Athletic Program (C.A.P.) mobile summer program
  • BEARTRAX Program, including a week-long camp in August for incoming 6th graders
  • Diversion Program
  • Teen Court
  • Field trips to baseball games, zip lining, snow tubing and other group activities
  • Youth Police Academy
  • Explorer Post Program
  • Police Cadet Program
  • Youth Advisory Council

How do SROs contribute to the school community?

Of the 19 SROs assigned to schools in Howard County, 15 serv