School Resource Officers Planned in All Public Middle Schools
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman today announced plans to strengthen security in local public schools with nearly $1.2 million in new funding to be included in his proposed FY 2019 county budget. In a joint press conference with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Harford County Public Schools, and the Town of Bel Air, the county executive said that $773K of the total would be dedicated to expanding the school resource officer program. The remainder would fund the school system’s FY19 requests for security camera upgrades and bi-directional amplifiers to improve radio communications in schools. Identifying these plans as an initial step, County Executive Glassman said that they were the result of local officials working together in response to school violence and the national mental health crisis.
All of the county’s public high schools and four middle schools currently have school resource officers, which are funded by either Harford County government or the municipalities of Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace. Plans announced Tuesday would result in SROs in all nine of the county’s public middle schools. The new positions would bring the total county funding for SROs to over $2.1 million annually.
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office screens, hires, and trains the county-funded SROs, a process estimated in this case to take nine months. Once the process is complete, the new county-funded SROs would be assigned to Fallston MS, North Harford MS, Patterson Mill MS and Southampton MS, in addition to the Alternative Education Program at the Center for Educational Opportunity. The Town of Bel Air announced Tuesday that it plans to fund the SRO for Bel Air MS.
In elementary schools, the Glassman administration has funded more than $7 million toward enclosing classrooms designed decades ago as “open classrooms” that now raise safety concerns. Most recently, the administration contributed nearly $4 million in FY 2018 to enclose classrooms at Bel Air Elementary School, the last such school in the county. That project is now underway. Prior funding was for William Paca/Old Post Road, William S. James, and Prospect Mill elementary schools. The county executive said Tuesday that he will continue to work with the school system and law enforcement on additional security measures for elementary schools.
Responding to the national mental health crisis, the county executive previously announced that $250K would be included in his proposed FY 19 budget for a 24-Hour Crisis Center for mental health and addiction. That project is planned in partnership with University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, the Harford County Health Department, and Healthy Harford.
Video of Tuesday’s announcement is available here:[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMcv3M6yRrQ[/embedyt]