To the editor:
Indeed, school resource officers make schools safer. In my experience as the father of three and grandfather of six, I have a strong affinity for SROs. Years ago, the off-duty police officers on campus were as appreciated then as they are now.
When our kids were in high school, safety issues largely consisted of the general well-being and peace on campus, prevention of sexual harassment and bullying. Today it’s much worse: sexual assault, cyber-bullying, drugs, weapons at or near schools and combating gang activities.
City Council’s so-called “Gang of Four” was not only short-sighted, but they failed to understand that publicly elected officials don’t have the privilege for private scheming. Recently a police officer asked my opinion regarding the restoration of SROs to Alexandria City High School. My response: “Of course they should be there!”
SROs are necessary for safety and serve as additional and important role models for our students – not unlike teachers and the entire staff who also share an avocation for selfless service. The presence of SROs may conjure up student visions for service in professions such as emergency services, the fire department or the military.
Just like anyone else, each SRO brings his or her unique personality, varied experiences and informal ways to contribute to the student’s potential growth. Many SROs engage students in casual conversation while they protect. Some even volunteer as athletic coaches and for other after school activities on their own time.
One sheriff’s deputy actually volunteered at Cora Kelly Elementary School as a first-grade tutor. Her mere presence is yet another example for students to see that public officials charged with ensuring their safety can also generously help in myriad ways.
-Bill Jacobs, Chatham Square