Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is the SRO Program - a chance for Peoria Police to become a positive force in our schools and subsequently our Community?

In essence Carl Cannon and his Elite Team can be considered School Resource Officers...

After learning more about the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, I must admit that I agree with the move to make this change. I view it as a chance for Peoria Police to become a positive force in our community. This program can be effective, in that it will make sure that the children with problems and/or acting out will receive the interventions they need, thereby making a healthier school and community.

We have tried for generations to push those we deem undesirable aside. Now that our chickens have come home to roost, we see that out of sight out of mind does not work. The way we have been dealing with minors with problems has hurt our community greatly. It's time to start dealing with our issues and stop pushing them aside. In my opinion, this program is a step in the right direction.

The description of a School Resource Officer (SRO), from a Chapel Hill, North Carolina school: The purpose of the School Resource Officer (SRO) is to be a peace officer by maintaining order at the assigned school campus with the legal authority to arrest if required. The SRO is a resource teacher in the areas of law enforcement education that can be applied in the classroom. The SRO can also be a counselor, by listening and assisting students with various problems. This approach enables the SRO to be a positive law enforcement role model and use proactive prevention by exposing human qualities of law enforcement to our youth and give them a trustworthy adult upon whom to depend.

The SRO shall be responsible for diverting minor law enforcement infractions through school disciplinary avenues and parent counseling as opposed to sending the juvenile into the criminal court system. However, if the SRO feels that the criminal offense is serious enough to warrant action through the criminal court system, he or she will investigate and file charges against the student with local law enforcement if the charges are substantiated and filing charges is consistent with local law enforcement procedures. The SRO should follow the proper procedures to see that charges are filed and supply court personnel with complete documentation of the crime, victims, suspects, reports and other required information.

The SRO shall carry out arrest, search and seizure procedures for juveniles under the age of 16 in accordance with state and federal law. When an SRO takes a juvenile over the age of 16 into custody, he/she shall follow the same course of action as set forth for the arrest of adults.

The SRO investigates criminal activity committed on school property or involving students assigned to the officer’s school. SROs shall not be utilized as school disciplinarians. However, they may assist school administrators with these duties as requested. The assistance may include searching and seizing students with reasonable suspicion only when requested by school officials, unless search and seizure is otherwise authorized by law.

An SRO is expected to handle all situations professionally and ethically. Student information may be obtained from a variety of sources and the SRO is expected to use sound professional judgment in determining what information they should share or act upon.

The local police departments require an SRO to wear a full police department uniform including all required equipment. On some occasions, with approval of their police department supervisor, it may be appropriate to wear plain clothes attire. The SRO shall have in his/her possession, at all times, department issued identification and badge, a fully loaded firearm, handheld radio, pager, handcuffs and all necessary keys to the officer’s assigned school. The required equipment may include a taser.

When performing security functions at school events and, as circumstances dictate, the officers shall wear appropriate uniform or plain clothes attire.

It is a goal of our School Resource Officers to make sure that the students feel protected and also that students learn there are consequences for their actions. We truly want the students and the community to feel secure in their schools.

If we care enough to complain, we owe it to ourselves and our community to do some research:


Emerge Peoria said...

So, is the Peoria Police Benevolent Leadership really opposed to trying proactive enforcement?

It's unfortunate, they have deemed the program unsafe, because their opposition is not a good look.

They will need to find a way to get on board, because the SRO program is going forward, not just in Peoria, but in schools across the country.

Emerge Peoria said...

While a lot of folks may want to complain about Dr. Lathan and her team, there is no denying that she is doing a lot of CYA for Peoria and District 150 to restore student civil rights that have been trampled on for decades.

I may not agree with every move being made (and I don't have to), but if this is the route to restoring equality in education in Peoria, Illinois, so be it.

Anonymous said...

It also negotiation time for the wannabe's. Some of them have really messed it up for all by abusing their authority. Several shouldn't be allowed to carry a rubber-band pistol, let alone a real one - I don't care if the went to police academy or not. Bad apples.

Sharon Crews said...

Like it or not, the new policies will probably be put in place, so once again all we can do is wait to see what happens. I think there is more to all of this than what we have heard about so far. I think eventually these officers will be reclassified (if all goes according to the plan) and their pay and authority will be reduced even further.

Any program is only as good as the people carrying it out. I was never at any school but Manual but the security rotated often enough that I came to know many of them. I truly do not believe that students at Manual were mistreated or even disrespected by the campus police. Many students built relationships with the officers--the very kind this SRO program advocates.

As soon as students engage in fights, for example, (the kind of violence that I witnessed), then I think they themselves have taken one step toward jeopardizing their own rights--especially their privileges.

There are now and have been, for quite some time, many safeguards built into the system to protect students from having their rights trampled on.

By the way, Bill Salzmann did an excellent job of presenting discipline data. He is very thorough with recordkeeping--this is probably the best reporting District 150 has ever seen. The only thing left out that should have been reported was data related to referrals (how many and what for).

I learned one thing last night that I did not know--and maybe it is a new policy since I left. I may have mentioned earlier that during the 1970s, a young man from the South who was new to Peoria was involved in a situation between a security guard and himself--that I witnessed. I knew that the district did not as a matter of course allow students to be represented at an expulsion hearing (now standard procedure). I called Mary McDade (then a board member) and she helped me get representation for the young man.

What I learned last night is that parents who complain about a suspension can request a hearing before the discipline committee and/or board--not sure of the details. I don't think the procedure has been widely publicized but I think parents will be notified of this possibility this year.

For now with what I know, I believe the district is making a mistake adopting this policy. Of course, I think there will be more controversy before this all ends. I fully expect the teachers' union to weigh in on this subject--Bobby certainly gave some hint of that last night.

As I see it, the District has perhaps to choose--are they going to protect the 90 to 95% of the students and provide them with a safe environment or are they going to put the interests of the 5 to 10% ahead of the others. Both cannot happen. Of course, if a true alternative school were in place, much of these problems would be resolved.

As someone pointed out earlier on this blog, the District is obligated to educate all children but the law doesn't preclude sites other than the traditional school.

This is one of those tough subjects about which total agreement is hard to come by--I just hope the board is looking at this situation carefully. I would certainly like to hear about specific instances over the last 5 to 10 years when students' rights were violated big time. Right off the bat I would say (as I did last night) that this is not the 1950s or even the 1960s--there are no life-altering punishments in 150. Expulsions are only for relatively short periods of time--not permanent ouster as they once were.

Peoria Anti-Pundit said...

We have kids carry guns into our schools. One has even had a shoot out in the hall ways and you criticize thy police. You are out of touch. Kids punch each other and staff yet the police are brutal? The mere fact that we have to have armed police in our schools should be a alarm bell. Oh. those poor mis understood children. You thin k they haven't tried proactive enforcement before? Afghanistan has safer schools.

Sharon Crews said...

OK, I am still confused. Is this definition of the SRO program one and the same with District 150's proposed changes to the campus police? Or has District 150 adapted its own version of the SRO program?

Emerge Peoria said...

This is a program, I found on the internet through research.

Check these mere facts
a) we have had armed police in our schools for ages
b) we have armed police on the streets.

Guess what? Crime is still a bitch, which is an indicator that a & b above are not working.

Sharon Crews said...

But what would crime be like if there were no police?

Right now England is having its problems and I believe British police do not carry weapons, so they can't be very intimidating.

Of course, I'm sure part of the problem in Peoria is that there are not enough police to handle the crime.

There is one big difference between now and when schools first began having campus police.

Teachers used to handle fights, etc., in the halls--actually, there were seldom any fights because that takes us back to my era in high school. There probably weren't any fights at Woodruff from 1951-1955. Amazingly enough but true, in my whole 12 years in District 150 as a student, I never saw a fight--certainly none of the behaviors that I saw in my own classroom as a teacher. Security came during the riot years associatged with integration and never left.

Anyway, in this day and age with the kind of fighting that goes on in schools, teachers are not going to step in to break up fights. I believe 150 teachers have been told not to get in the middle of fights. Bill Willingham at Manual did just that and ended up with severe problems and a long hospital stay. Other teachers have been accused of attacking students, etc., when they were just trying to break up a fight.

I know that male teachers have sometimes been critical of female teachers (like me) who would not intervene in fights. I have never been in a physical fight in my life, I wasn't trained to break up fights, my contract didn't require me to break up fights. If schools want to hire teachers to break up fights, then I guess they will have to change their hiring practices. I am always amused by female administrators who wear 2 to 3 inch heels--probably don't do much running to fights.

Getting rid of or neutralizing campus police will not solve any problems. As I said in my speech last night, I am for all of the positive interventions and programs, etc., aimed at convincing young people to change their behaviors and helping them to control anger, etc. However, most programs involve adults changing their behaviors and or adapting to the behaviors of young people. None of the positives can stand alone--the measures have to be there for those who cannot and will not behave.

Fights are borne out of anger that kids bring with them to school--from frustrations and conflicts in their own lives. Frankly, teachers and school are way down at the bottom of the list as the causes of those frustrations. They are not fighting teachers; they are fighting each other.

We all have anger issues. Most of us have been taught how to control anger. These kids have no control over themselves--that's the whole problem. I have talked to some of these young people who hate themselves for letting their anger get the best of them, but they cannot control those feelings and/or their impulse to act on the feelings.

It would be interesting to poll the whole student body to find out what percentage of the students want restrictions placed on security. Most kids don't even notice their presence.

Maybe things have changed--at Manual we sometimes had to wait for a considerable length of time for security to show up. They aren't that visible. It's not as though you have a whole police force in a school--how many would you guess per building?

Mahkno said...

"we have had armed police in our schools for ages

Neither my wife nor I had armed police in our schools. No uniformed police like person either. I don't recall ever seeing a uniformed officer in any other schools in our home towns.

Maybe Peoria is different...

Emerge Peoria said...

Correction, I got called on by fam about the "armed police for ages" statement.

Apparently, it was some time after 2007 when officers in District 150 started carrying guns and it wasn't in all schools.

Sharon Crews said...

Now there's a question about which I don't have an answer either. I thought the officers carried guns before I left in 2005. If you hadn't brought up the question, I would probably have gone with the "guns for ages." I think the gun issue changed considerably after Columbine. I guess when we realized that the chances for kids with guns had increased, policies changed. Certainly, what is going on this summer on the streets of Peoria indicates that guns aren't hard to find--and kids will probably be bringing them to school. Someone brought up metal detectors. There is always a hew and cry about frisking all students--that is really intimidating to all.

Also, there is no way to keep the high schools secure. Locking all the doors is impossible--kids on the inside can open doors for those on the outside. Where there is a will to bring a gun in, there will be a way.

Terry Knapp brought up some positive suggestions last night. He stated that District 150 gave up summer school--that used to occupy many students in the summer and actually helped them academically because so many students lose so much in the summer. He mentioned no baseball summer programs, etc.--things the Park District and the city could organize.

Dr. Lathan's response was something about parental responsibility.

Anonymous said...

It was way before 2007 when offices in the schools carried guns. I know for a fact they did in 1990 how much before that I am not sure.

Rixblix said...

Are there metal detectors at the entrances of the schools of 150? Or at a minimum, the high schools?

Anonymous said...


Jon said...

"If we care enough to complain, we owe it to ourselves and our community to do some research"

I like that. I wish more felt the same way

Anonymous said...

For some, complaining between pension checks is all they have to live for......

Sharon Crews said...

Probably true of some on pensions--those who no longer have enough money to live on because the cost of living has increased but their pensions haven't.

However, I haven't reached that stage yet, so the three children playing on my livingroom floor at the moment (and their two siblings)are a big part of my life--and the reason for my continuing interest in District 150. I have time to complain and to devote time to them. In fact, the 8-year-old is organizing his book bag and chattering a mile a minute while I'm typing. It's great to see kids excited about going back to school.

Rixblix said...

Having had my question re: metal detectors answered, I have to as WHY AREN'T THERE metal detectors? It's too bad that there's a need for them, but it seems to be a practice that has been adopted by many, many high schools. Of course, where there's a will, there's a way, but this would certainly make an impact...we wand our students periodically and find all sorts of stuff - paraph, knives, etc... We dont' do it everyday, either.

The doors to ALL the schools should be locked. Will kids let others in, sure. But again, it's a deterrent. Virtually all the schools I've worked in since graduating in '90 locked all their doors from the outside and had one main entrance that required visual ID of the person entering the building and a buzzer to allow the person entry. (Anyone remember Laurie Dann in Winnetka? That's when the locked doors and buzzers began).

I'm curious as to why these basic measures weren't implemented long, long ago. And if they have been and I'm misunderstanding, my bad.

Tracker said...

The district doesn't want metal detectors in every school...looks too authoritarian...they use them AFTER a threat or during high visibility BB games...
The Campus Police have been carrying duty weapons since the late 70's...there are wands and sometimes they catch stuff...some schools have their doors locked...but only maybe 2-3 officers on duty...the high schools are huge with multiple doors and 1200-1600 students coming every which way...cars...buses...drop-offs have to be monitored.
Things like lost phones and other stuff take up the time of an officer as well as teachers and staff that also may have a problem that needs attention.
The board is stripping some power from the now "Resource Officers" and according to the policy..."power to make arrests is limited to violations of the truancy statutes" and they can only "momentarily" use periods of physical restriction "without the aid of material of mechanical devices"..ie: handcuffs.
The board members have NEVER been to a school for a reasonable time to actually see what happens...they sit in the Ivory Tower and command presence of policy for what they have absolutely no clue of...

Sharon Crews said...

Tracker--certainly an accurate account of what I saw happening at Manual before I retired. I did think that guns were always carried since the 70s--but wasn't sure. Probably that was just at high schools in the beginning but expanded to other schools has fears mounted, etc.

Certainly agree about the Ivory Tower. If any of the board members had seen some of the fights that I witnessed, they would just have to feel differently. Watching a student kicking a student on the floor in the head hard and repeatedly scared the heck out of me. These kids are fighting to kill or maim. Certainly not all fights are that violent but always a strong possibility in today's society.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't do any good to lock the doors as students go out every door in the building even though they aren't suppose to;students prop the doors open in the back/side of the school so they or others can get back in when they leave the building during school hours. Or if they don't prop them open when some students leave, they just text another student to come to the back or side doors so that they can be let back in. Even the officers couldn't watch every door as there weren't enough of them. This is very dangerous and goes on continuously. Sometimes it isn't even the kids that go to that school that get in.

Rixblix said...

Well, I guess there's no need to try anything new. Nothing's working. Nothing WILL work. Nobody knows what they're doing and it's all just a waste. Bad kids, bad parents, bad teachers, bad administrator, bad school board members.


Emerge Peoria said...

I guess you are right Rix... All attempts will be futile. We are SOL. We should just keep on doing what we are doing.

Sharon Crews said...

I believe at the high schools it is virtually impossible to secure all the doors. There are too many doors that would have to be guarded all day--impossible. Besides I believe there are some fire codes that would be violated if the doors were locked to prevent existing--and if they can be existed, students on the inside can always let students on the outside in.

As for metal detectors, I'm not against them, but they are far more intrusive than are the security guards. Everyone is subject to what could be deemed humiliation with the detectors whereas the guards don't intimidate anyone but those who misbehave. I would think that anyone against armed guards would be equally against metal detectors. Besides the metal detectors probably do catch some who are careless, but if kids want to come in high schools with guns or knives, they can find a way in. I really don't believe that all doors can be secured.

The other problem with securing all doors at Manual is that teachers and/or staff that have to leave during the day have great difficulty getting back into the building--it's a long walk on rainy and snowy days to the front doors from the parking lot. Same goes for visitors who park in the lot and try to get into the building. In my experience, it's the teachers that get locked out--kids seem to find a way in.

Rixblix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rixblix said...

Many buildings have staff entrances off staff parking. If staff does not want students entering and exiting random doors, they should follow suit. Don't teachers have those id cards with the metal backings that gain them entrance to their buildings? Most districts have adopted this practice as a means of monitoring faculty and staff hours. And seriously? "It's a long walk....?" That's exactly the kind of thing that encourages the attitude that teachers are lazy, pampered, over paid babysitters.

Of course metal detectors are intrusive...passively intrusive. They don't need to be used every day, just randomly. If there have been whispers of a ruckus (there almost always are), run all the kids through the detectors the following day.

Of course it's impossible to 'guard' every door. Aren't there cameras pointed at every exit and entrance? It'd be easy to see which ones are most problematic.

Have students enter at one (or two) entrances each day give the SROs and building administrators a chance to make eye contact with each and every kid...that kind of thing goes a long way. It allows us to notice the kid who's walked in with a fresh black eye or tears and make a point to reach out.

It's about being PRO-active rather than REactive. It's about humanizing children rather than always being adversarial. It's about time this area drops the 'us vs. them' mentality (including those stalwart Caucasians) and TRIES SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Sharon Crews said...

I did speak to the race issue on Monday night (posted on PeoriaStory.com). Frankly, the comments afterwards by board members were then more open about race. In trying to keep my speech short enough, I had taken out the words "First, I want to address the elephant in the room."

All of these issues are racial in nature--the undercurrent, the unspoken all relate to fears about how black children are treated. We need to get the issues on the table openly. I don't mean that I want to hear from all the bigots in the world--their comments here and more so on C.J.'s blog send me into orbit. And, of course, I always have the fear that I will be lumped with the "stalwart Caucasians." I am anything but. And have spent my lifetime happily being the one with the racial views that didn't quite fit everyone else's Caucasian agenda. I didn't just start getting on the bandwagon. In fact, 30 years ago, all my views were very much the same as those of Martha Ross.

My only reason for moving in a different direction more recently is that I am not at all sure that promoting a victim mentality and protecting kids from the consequences of their actions is good for black kids. And there aren't enough white kids in District 150 to be worried about--many parents have already
protected" their children from District 150's discipline problems. And a good many black families have done the same--my cousins included.

When I began teaching black children, I had no idea that one of my black students would one day be family as he married my "mixed" second cousin, whose birth had already broken some barriers in my own family. Now I have their two black children and the five other children so important in my life to worry about.
It is one of the reasons I appreciate Emerge's blog so much--it does give us the opportunity to hammer out some agreement and/or deal with the disagreement on racial issues. I am not here to win any arguments for the sake of winning an argument. Someone just suggested that we retirees have nothing to do but complain. I am not hear to complain. I want solutions, also. While I want solutions that involve consequences for behaviors, I do understand all the underlying reasons why kids behave as they do. Just blaming it on how they were raised is not good enough for me--obviously whatever baggage the kids carry, the parents, also, carry.

Sharon Crews said...

Let me come out with another of those concepts that I haven't quite tried to verbalize before. District 150, more than ever before, is run by black administrators and the third black superintendent in 10 years.

I do know that those in leadership are very, very conflicted daily about their roles. (I know, I know most don't understand that as they seem quite self-assured). I know many of them personally and Dr. Lathan has said enough that I know she is in the same boat. I know that almost all of them feel just as strongly as I do (and Emerge does) about wanting the bad behaviors to cease. However, they do know the history that has plagued black children in our country. I know that if I can pick up on little hints of racial bigotry--you know phrases like "your people" and "those people," then black people struggle with what they hear day after day.

Frankly, I believe that it is now mainly the black community and leadership that can solve the problems in District 150. The leadership is certainly there now. These leaders have to find a way to toughen kids up to fight against all the blows that society will probably throw at them. Being too lenient just won't do that job. I don't want them punished because "they deserve" to be punished, I want them to accept responsibility for their own actions because that is what is good for them. It is so, so much easier to baby them and to take away the pain of real consequences. But they will be so much better off in the future. And I know that it is very difficult to have to "give up" on some kids to save the rest. That sounds harsh--I don't even like the sound--but I don't know what other choice there is. Even then, ways to try to save those other kids should still be sought--but not at the expense of the rest.

Also and finally for now, I am tired of hearing that kids who live in poverty can't behave or live up to acceptable standards--yes, they can and I have seen many of them behave. To say otherwise about black kids is truly racial bigotry

Anonymous said...

As far as cameras in the schools there are very few in the high schools and they aren't on all the doors. There are many, many blind spots and also some of the cameras are just there for show and not hooked up. Yes the doors are locked from the outside, that is the reason the doors are propped open by the students or the students just text another student to come let them in. It is continuous that this happens. As I said previously some students that do come in these doors aren't even students of that particular school. Students know where the cameras are and congregate in areas that the cameras aren't. Until someone stands guard at every door all day long the students will continue to go in and out. We know that is an impossibility.

Sharon Crews said...

The death of an 8-year-old today has to make everyone want a more serious look at solutions. Yes, the root causes of such violence need to be identified and dealt with--if that's possible.

With regard to racial problems, I hope we can all acknowledge that most of the causes lie in the past and that many of us have moved past the extreme bigotry of the past (not all but enough to make a difference). I know that the victims of the bigotry find it much harder to move on. I have always acknowledged that fact and made allowances for it.

That said, immediate answers have to be pursued. First of all, of course, we don't know the age of the shooter in this case. Maybe he/she is too old to be under the watchful eye of parents.

Regardless of the past and bigotry, today's parents do need to be held accountable for the whereabouts of their teen-age children--for the sake of their own children as well as all others.

The truth is I'm just writing out of complete frustration as I watch an 8-year-old at my house drawing and playing with his two siblings--another child his age is dead because of violence in Peoria.

The truth is that I don't have the faintest idea how to resolve these problems.

I hope you all have read the PJS comments under the article about suspensions in 150. It appears that Dunlap High School may have some serious problems of its own. However, the problems in Dunlap are directly related to the problems on Peoria's streets--the Dunlap need for drugs creates the "opportunity" for those who sell the drugs. As with all businesses, dealing with competition is always the problem. Kids involved in the drug trade may find "guns" as their only way of beating the competition in a business that doesn't allow legal advertising.

Rixblix said...

There are problems in all the area schools. I personally know kids from Morton, Pekin and Dee-Mack struggling with heroin addiction. I can't count the number of kids on my side of the river who've either overdosed and died or have immediate family members who've overdosed and died on prescription drugs JUST THIS YEAR! A promising athlete from EP is in jail because of drugs. Another athlete (with a full ride athletic scholarship)was expelled and lost his scholarship over prescription drugs (and a teacher was involved in THAT mess). WAKE UP! Drugs aren't coming into these lovely towns FROM Peoria. Peoria is NOT the problem.

We cannot continue down the path we've been on. Children are dying...and we're arguing about handcuffs and candy.