Community Engagement Officer Program will reinstate police presence in schools
On April 26, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Montgomery County Government and the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) to initiate the Community Engagement Officer (CEO) 2.0 Program. Effective immediately, CEOs will be assigned to all school clusters in MCPS.
The plan, which was first announced on March 31 in a MCPS community message, brings police officers into schools to act as liaisons between law enforcement and school officials.
The CEO program was initially created as a replacement for the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program, which County Executive Marc Elrich defunded in his 2022 spending plan. In the original program, CEOs did not have any presence in schools, and their role was limited. With the updated program, CEOs are provided an office in the school building and are given the authority to respond to school service calls. However, the officers are not permanently stationed inside schools and will not be involved in student discipline or enforcement of MCPS policies or rules.
The expanded duties of CEOs also include traffic safety and enforcement around schools, assistance with coordination of major school events, delivering law enforcement programs in schools, and coordinating emergency response training for law enforcement.
According to the Washington Post, MCPS and MCPD negotiated the agreement privately and excluded students and community activists from viewing the document.
However, in a recent community message announcing the signing, MCPS claimed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) "includes community input gathered through focus groups with students, staff, parents and multiple key community stakeholder groups." In addition, the MOU states that the Community Engagement Division of the MCPD, which supervises CEOs, will meet annually with MCPS leadership and community stakeholders to "discuss current matters of mutual interest including MOU implementation issues and joint training opportunities."
Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight indicated in the community message that the signing of the agreement is also intended to coincide with an $8 million budget increase to create wellness centers in MCPS high schools approved by the Montgomery County Council earlier this month. “The important social-emotional and mental health supports that we are putting in place along with this new agreement with our police partners is the right solution at this time,” McKnight said.
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