Montgomery County will be placing 32 additional police officers into schools and supporting the county in applying for a $3.4 million federal grant, according to an article in Wednesday's Washington Post.
According to County Executive Douglas Duncan, the proposal is part of his homeland security plans, developed in response to September 11th. Police have also been working more closely with schools after the Columbine shootings, three years ago.
Blair Security Guard Edward Reddick suggested that police will not be much help in preventing another Columbine. "The people who interact with a troubled student are teachers and other students and police officers don't get to know students," he said.
Senior Isaiah Plair agreed with Reddick. "The teachers are the ones who can prevent students from [committing crimes, doing drugs, etc.]," he said.
The new police officers will not be taking place of the schools' current security staff, instead they will be helping and teaching classes on issues such as "pedestrian safety, substance abuse and drunken driving laws," according to The Washington Post.
Senior Nadia Sookar said that students might "feel threatened" by the police but she also said the police could assist in lowering narcotic usage. "[The police] might help reduce the use of drugs and alcohol," she said.
Blair administrator Linda Wolf thinks the funding is a good idea. "[Police officers in school] will give students a chance to see police in a different atmosphere," she said. Wolf also feels that police could help with situations that are out of school officials' jurisdiction and knowledge. "[The police] are expert in a whole lot of things we're not expert on."
Reddick is not so sure he likes the proposal. "[Police in schools] is the concept that is going around the country," he said and he thinks the police "make the adults feel safer more so then the kids." Reddick says that police are around a lot so new police officers placed in school will not have a huge effect. "[The police] are in and out of here all the time anyway," he said.
Officers will be assigned to clusters of schools to work on security planning and coordination with school officials. School's spokesman Brian Porter said that currently there is a communication gap between the police and schools. A lot of the schools in the areas surrounding Montgomery County such as Prince George's County and the District already have police officers.
Wolf says she will not be completely sure she supports the new police in schools until all of the details have been worked out. She is waiting to see if the police will be carrying guns and whether or not they will be in uniform. According to Reddick "police always have their weapon." "I don't see any problem [with the police carrying their weapons]," he said.
For more information go to the Washinton Post archives at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37450-2002Apr23.htm.
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