National Study Highlights Anne Arundel County’s Public Safety-School Partnership

This fall, the Council of State Governments Justice Center presented a white paper on school discipline to the Maryland State Board of Education.  During the presentation, Emily Morgan, Senior Policy Analyst with the Justice Center, mentioned the need for partnerships between schools and  public safety, noting the Anne Arundel County as a leader in this area.

The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System states,

The Anne Arundel County Police Department is the fifth largest police department in Maryland, with approximately 660 sworn officers. Of these officers, 21 of them, along with two sergeants and one lieutenant, make up the School Resource Unit. Members of the SRO [School Resource Officer] unit are employees of the police department, which provides all salaries and training. The police department hosts a large central command whereby all SROs and county officers report to a single location to facilitate coordination, training, and information sharing. Given the decentralized nature of SRO work, having a central command provides opportunities for direct communications among officers and encourages peer supports.

The agency also has received recognition for its Speak Out software application for smart phones, which allows students to anonymously report incidents. Because of challenges in
convincing students of the anonymity provided, overlapping reporting systems are also promoted, such as a student safety hotline. Posters and materials with QR codes help students to reach out using the technology they are most comfortable with.

Many Maryland county governments provide school resource officers at their schools. According to data from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, County Sheriff’s Offices provide school resource officers in Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Queen Anne’s, and Wicomico counties.  And county and/or city police provide school resource officers in Anne Arundel, Dorchester, Howard, Allegany, Caroline, St. Mary’s, Montgomery, Washington, Baltimore, and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City.  There are about 302 school resource officers statewide and the majority of them are provided through police departments.

For more information, read the full report and these previous posts on Conduit Street, Montgomery Posts School Resources Officers at Every High SchoolBaltimore County Begins $9.8M School Security Expansion and the fiscal and policy notes from SB807 (2013) and HB20 (2014).

These additional white papers of the Council might also be of interest to county governments: