State Rep. Kathy Kennedy expressed concern on federal legislation that would pave the way to remove school resource officers (SRO) from local school districts.

Currently, Milford has five school resource officers, two in the high schools and three in the middle schools. The town of Orange has one SRO which covers Amity Middle School (grades 7-8) and four in the elementary schools.

“As past president of the state PTA, I have seen firsthand the positive impact SRO’s has had on students and the educational environment,” said Rep. Kennedy. “SROs have now become woven into the school community and vital members of the team. An assigned SRO is not just another police officer pulled off their regular patrol. They are carefully selected, well-trained officers that help bridge the gap between youth and law enforcement, creating positive impressions that transcend the school environment.”

In addition to providing security, these officers also help troubled youth change behaviors that might otherwise lead to involvement with the criminal justice system. An SRO is a school community’s resident expert on emergency planning and response. In addition, the SRO aids in the creation of effective emergency plans and the exercises of those plans.

Rep. Kennedy disagreed with the assertion that widespread actions by SROs in the U.S. has led to the criminalization of minor behaviors of students. The information I am aware of is that SROs make arrests under the same set of circumstances that would cause a school principal to call the police if an SRO were not already present at the school.