A Pledge to School Safety – Calvert County, MD
The shame of it all, is that we have to write plans and contingencies for active shooting incidents that occur in our schools. A place that should be for learning has for some, become a combative arena. The following is my opinion. I base my opinion on numerous factors. Through research, training, knowledge, and experiences that have directly prepared me to make policy and effect laws that would allow us to enforce the educational experience for our children. Even with all of my police, fire, EMS, military experience and training aside, I am first and foremost, a Dad. When it comes to the safety of my children, I will and am willing to do everything to ensure that at the end of the day, I get to hear their voices.
I simply cannot imagine what those parents in Parkland, Florida or Great Mills are feeling. The thought of not getting to hug my kids ever again gives me a pain that travels throughout my entire body. So I honestly do not even want to imagine their feelings.
Keep in mind that this plan below is preliminary and would need the approval of the Board of County Commissioners. Before I delve into the plan, let me add, I realize that we all want action now. And I think that there are things that can be done right now. Hopefully that plan is in the works with the BOE. Further to that end, I encourage you all to become a part of that process. Attend the BOE meetings and the BOCC meetings. This is a community effort and over the past several months, I have met some wonderful people that truly are concerned over the well-being of their children while they are in school.
School Resource Deputy – The Plan
First of all, what is a School Resource Deputy? A School Resource Deputy (SRD) or School Resource Officer (SRO) is a law enforcement officer with sworn authority who is deployed by an employing police department or agency in a community-oriented policing assignment to work in collaboration with one or more schools. These Deputy’s receive specialized training before and during their assignment as an SRD. Some of the training that an SRD may undergo is outlined below:
- Foundations of School Based Law Enforcement
- Ethics and the SRD
- The SRD as a Teacher/Guest Speaker
- Understanding Special Needs Students
- Social Media
- School Law
- The SRD as an Informal Counselor/Mentor
- Understanding the Teen Brain
- Active Shooter Training
- Violence and Victimization: Challenges to Development
- Sex Trafficking of Youth
- Effects of Youth Trends and Drugs on the School Culture and Environment
- Threat Response: Preventing Violence in School Settings
- School Safety and Emergency Operations Plans
- Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
Shortly after being elected to Sheriff, the full plan will be vetted by the Command Staff, the BOE, and a Citizen Action Team. Upon the approvals and recommendations of these community members, I will make a request to the Board of County Commissioners to increase the number of contract personnel to the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office. Specifically, I will request the School Resource Unit be increased to twenty-five (25) Deputy Sheriff’s.
These Officers will be assigned to the schools and will work with the current CCPS Safety Advocates in an effort to reduce the prevalence of crimes and violence in our schools. All SRD’s will undergo specialized training in accordance with National and Maryland practices for School Resource Officers. The SRD’s will also report intelligence and possible criminal activity to appropriate bureaus within the Sheriff’s Office. Let me emphasize that these officers WILL have full arrest authority in the State of Maryland.
This does not mean that they will be making arrests and carting our kids out of the school in handcuffs on a daily basis. It does mean they will strive to allow the school administrators and teachers to handle the day to day discipline of the school. The presence of the SRD can greatly and widely reduce the number of incidents and complaints on school property. With the cooperation of the Calvert County Board of Education, the Calvert Sheriff’s Office, and Juvenile Services we may actually be able to prevent juveniles from obtaining a criminal record altogether.
There are twenty-three (23) public schools in Calvert County that serve thousands of students. And there are currently five (5) private schools that house approximately 1,000 students. By creating these positions, we will not only be creating a better working relationship with our students and staff, but also with the community in general. These newly formed positions, will add jobs to the Sheriff’s Office, and bring forth an effort that is long overdue. As our county population grows, we will reevaluate the need for additional SRD’s each year.
How Will We Pay For The New Positions?
The question that many have wondered, “How we are going to pay for or afford it”? I simply ask you this first, what is the cost of your child? How much money is the limit that you are willing to put out of pocket to ensure their safety?
With that being said, I have a plan that I believe will not incur an increase in the current budget. Through grant funds and monies already available, I believe that this endeavor is completely possible. I will request that seventy five percent of the funds from the Automated Speed Enforcement Zones be filtered into the Sheriff’s Department budget to specifically pay the contracts of the SRD’s. The figure is not as “astronomical” as previously stated by a current official. Instead, the total cost of this program is estimated to be $1.2M per year. A cost that is perfectly within reason to safeguard your children and mine!!
- No amount is too great to save the life of a child.
- Speed Monitoring Program funds will be used to cover up to 75% of the cost of the positions.
- Grant Programs through the State and Federal Government will be utilized to cover remaining contract costs.
- Grant Funds from the GOCCP (Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention) will also be applied to train the officers in their positions.
- Community efforts to raise funds for specialized items such as door guards, and stops can be used as well.
- The Calvert County Commissioners have already pledged $2 million for increased security in our schools. With this pledge, other funds may not be necessary. The School Board is expected to match that $2M, and to also apply for additional funding that may help with cost associated in “beefing” up the building security.
Let me be clear on this issue. As to where I am not opposed to teachers being armed, this decision would be solely up to the BOE. Should the BOE make the decision to allow non-law enforcement persons to carry a concealed firearm on school property, as the Sheriff, I would request the BOE;
- Allow the Sheriff’s Office to conduct the Firearms Training
- Limit the number of CCPS Staff to five (5) persons per school
Honestly, with the current process and laws that are in place now, it would be faster and easier to place SRD’s in the schools than it would for getting those staff member’s permits. As a current Law Enforcement Officer with Active Shooter Training and Advanced Counter Terrorism Training, I would highly recommend against arming teachers or staff members. The risk assessment is far too great that additional accidental or unintentional incidents could occur as a result. A teacher could be mistaken for a suspect in an Active Shooter situation and potentially be shot by incoming police. Discharging a firearm in a crowed school is very dangerous. Police Officers conduct training constantly with their weapons to be accurate with the least amount of force needed to end the threat.
None of this means anything without a promise or pledge to you. Now, I cannot promise that we will never have any issues in our schools. I don’t think that there is a school in this country that believes it will happen to them. Unfortunately, we all know too well with the recent attacks in schools that it can happen anywhere, at any time of day.
What I do promise, is that once I am elected to be our Sheriff, I will stop at nothing to ensure that our children are safe and protected in our schools. We simply have that responsibility to our children, to those we know, and those we don’t. I already know that many of you will take some kind of pledge similar to this one or have already done so by creating the groups that have helped to bring so much light to this very vulnerable situation. To those of you who have not yet taken a pledge or wish to renew your pledge, I welcome and encourage you to join with me in this endeavor. This will not happen overnight and it is not a solution to all of the issues. However, I believe that with having a fully trained Deputy in the schools where the daily population of our children are located, we will be in a better position to hinder, deter, and stop a criminal act. Our response time would be greatly reduced by having an on-site officer that can and would save lives.
If any of you have any questions, please contact me. **Please understand that this is not a fully drafted plan. This is a promise from me, (a parent that has children in our schools right now) to you, that I will do everything within my authority to ensure that our children enjoy a secure, and safe environment while in our schools.
Candidate for Sheriff
Calvert County, MD