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SROs in the Schools: Necessary or No?

Barnegat Patch asks your thoughts on special officers in township schools.

It's been a much-talked-about issue for weeks, and Barnegat got some resolution on it Tuesday night.

The Board of Education voted to keep the shared services contract with the township that supplies two special resource officers, or SROs, in district schools. Each will be paid $58,066. (The board had previously voted down the contract, but had to vote again on the measure because not enough members were present for that initial vote to count.)

Some say the SROs aren't necessary, and cost taxpayers too much money. If a school had an emergency and needed help from the police, they say, regular patrol officers could be there right away.

Others say they're a vital part of the school community, helping bridge the gap between law enforcement and youth in the community and allowing police to keep a finger on the pulse of the culture of the district's schools – an important part of community policing.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

We're looking forward to bringing you a "question of the day" from now on to open up discussion on important topics. Just remember to keep it civil – no personal attacks, no bad language, no nastiness.

jay jase February 17, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Yes to SROs in the school! Many local districts utilize them and they play a vital part in keeping our children/schools safe!
Mac February 17, 2011 at 04:16 AM
The idea of utilizing SROs in schools certainly has its merits, but to pay well-trained local police officers in a basically secure bedroom community to be a combination of PR representatives of the community and security personnel for the school is a bit farfetched. The police and schools could accomplish more with sports and after-school volunteer programs than by hanging around during school hours with a full staff of school officials present. It's not necessary to have a fulltime police officer on duty in the schools everyday in order for the police to be able to present any of their programs to students and/or intermingle with them. And regardless of whether the school pays for the officer or the borough pays for the officer, the costs remain the same. The same taxpayer pays for both operations.
Ken Bank February 17, 2011 at 04:37 AM
The criminal justice system in this country has destroyed more lives than all the drugs put together. The last thing we need to expose our kids to is the sight of a bodybuilder in uniform with a gun and a badge parading down school hallways like Wyatt Earp on Main Street in Dodge City. Besides, I thought there was a law against bringing guns to school. It hardly sets a good example. Anyway, I'd rather spend the money on professional counselors and social workers who are trained specifically to work with troubled kids. In fact, I know a couple of teachers in Barnegat who would do a better job working with behaviorally challenged youngsters than the SROs we have now.
Eric Thomas February 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM
SRO's in the schools are not critical, vital or indispensable. Crime in Barnegat - outside (not inside) our schools - is rising. Just a couple of nights ago the new Chinese Restaurant on Rt. 9 was burglarized. Before that, several dozen cars were broken into. And those are only two of the many robberies, break-ins, etc. that are impacting safety and quality of life in Barnegat. Our schools have a lock-down procedure that seals the buildings in a matter of seconds. I submit that a police car can arrive quickly. Our schools are not hotbeds of crime, violence, etc. Barnegat suffers from a gang presence and other crime is increasing. We must use our police where they do the most good for the most people. If the school district feels a need for on-premises security, there are plenty of reputable private companies that can cater to their needs. And it is left to the school district to fund their needs - that is why they have their own budget.
Bill Cox April 17, 2011 at 07:57 PM
As a former law enforcement officer and the former head of security for the district I find this argument to be absolutely inane. Barnegat HS is by far our town's Grand Central Station, during the course of the day we have approx. 1,000 students(children of our town's taxpayers) a few hundreds teachers and staff as well as parents and visitors. Is there any location in this town with that many people in it at any one time? Why would a police department not assign an officer to the most populated area of town? Now if we are discussing the cost of the program that is another story but the assignment of a police officer to such a vital area such as the high school should continue to be priority one. The ones who write in and complain now will be the first to ask "How did this happen?" if something were to go wrong in the future. One writer "MAC" calls us a basically secure bedroom community, might I remind him that there was a school invasion in the Amish community that resulted in the deaths of children, I am sure that area was considered safe as well. Prevention is the best medicine as they say.


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