Suffolk Schools, Police Reach Agreement on Role of Resource Officers

Suffolk County Police and the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association have reached an agreement about the role of the officers in schools.

The single-page document lists19 points, under “Roles and Responsibilities Include but Are Not Limited to,” leading off with a statement that the “officer will perform all duties, responsibilities and lawful requirements of a duly sworn police officer.”

The document says that the school resource program was established in 1998 and that officers receive specialized training to work in schools.

The agreement  results from a controversial Pro Publica article published in December about how a Huntington High School student ended up deported to Honduras as he fell under suspicion that he was involved in the Salvadoran gang MS-13. The article alleged that the school resource officer contributed information that led to the deportation of the student identified as Alex.

Most of the points are general, such as “Forge and maintain effective relationships with all students, faculty, staff and school” and “Another says, “Understand the school Code of Conduct and assisting school personnel in observing/reporting such infractions.”

The issue of the SRO brought scores of residents to the Huntington Board of Education meeting on Jan.7. Students, parents and alumni expressed concern about what information was collected and where it went. An alumni group, including at least three valedictorians, wanted the district to clarify exactly what student actions would or should be reported by police; that lesser infractions be handled by school administrators, not police, and asked whether the behavior of other students, not only immigrant students, would draw official law-enforcement attention. Fourteen of the alumni, calling themselves Concerned Alumni for Protecting Our Classmates, submitted a letter listing ideas to ensure the safety of immigrant students.

Huntington parent Josh Dubnau has been asking the Huntington school board for information about reaching an agreement. On Monday night, school board president Jennifer Hebert told Dubnau that the public forum “was not the forum to address this” when he asked again.

SCPD School Resource Officer (SRO) Roles and Responsibilities
Background/Objective: The SCPD SRO program was established in 1998. School Resource officers receive specialized training to assist them in making the necessary accommodations to work within the school environment and forge positive relationships with students, faculty, staff and administrators. The SRO serves as a direct liaison between the school/district and the Suffolk County Police Department.
Roles and Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
● Perform all duties, responsibilities, and lawful requirements of a duly sworn Suffolk County Police Officer
● Forge and maintain effective relationships with all students, faculty, staff and school administrators
● Assist school leaders in the planning and execution of school safety drills including fire, lockdown, lockout, and reunification
● Understand the school’s Code of Conduct and assisting school personnel in observing/reporting such infractions
● Plan and assist with emergency response for various circumstances
● Assist school officials when matters involving law enforcement officers are required
● Observe and evaluate potential threats to the safety of the student body
● Serve as a visible deterrent to illegal/dangerous activity
● Handle requests for service in and around schools and follow up on reports that are generated at school, engaging parents/community as needed
● Conduct comprehensive safety and security assessments
● Assist in the development of emergency management and incident response systems including mitigation/prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
● Integrate appropriate security equipment/technology
● Respond to unauthorized persons on school property
● Serve as a member of the school’s Threat Assessment Team
● Serve as a member of the school’s Safety Committee
● Communicate regularly with school security officers/director
● Build relationships with juvenile justice counselors, parole officers and family court to help connect youth with needed services
● Develop and expand crime prevention efforts for students – offering workshops, lessons and assemblies as appropriate
● Partner with Organizations, school faculty and advocates to develop and expand community justice initiatives for students

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