Capital Editorial

Our say: Additional school safety spending welcome, March 7, 2018.

Capital Article

Pacella, Rachael, Anne Arundel executive proposes $15 million for improving school security, March 6, 2018.

Snider Comment

“At a joint press conference at Annapolis High School,… the county executive proposed to spend $14.8 million over two years to add 20 school resource officers”

If the presence of SROs in the schools is increased, there should be more accountability mechanisms to prevent them from functioning as “bullies,” including their use by school administrators to intimidate parents and students for their own political purposes. School staff have already been given too many under-the-public-radar tools to intimidate citizens without adding yet another one without safeguards.

Many of us are familiar with the PTA parent who sucks up to senior school administrators, usually the principal, to secure favorable treatment for their child; e.g., ensuring her child doesn’t get the awful teacher that all the insider parents and teachers know is awful. Less familiar is the parent (or student) who is willing to publicly call out corruption or other problems that might not reflect well on a local administrator.

Here the SRO can come in handy. SROs tend to develop close working relationships with senior administrators and naturally come to see the world through their eyes. When this is combined with the SROs’ and school administrators’ minimal accountability–e.g., jobs for life and grievance systems that strongly favor them—and toolset to intimidate under-the-public-radar, the temptation to utilize SROs to intimidate potential dissenters is too strong for some administrators to resist.

So yes, SROs offer great upsides. But as currently implemented, they also offer opportunities for abuse.The public should ask elected officials what steps will be taken to mitigate the current incentives for abuse.