Presence of SROs

a deterrent to trouble

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

A recent editorial about school resource officers has prompted me to share my positive experiences with Henrico police as a retiree of Henrico County Public Schools.

For 16 years, I was an assistant principal at Hermitage and then Mills Godwin high schools, and for 12 years I was principal of Godwin High School. For about 25 of those 28 years, I was fortunate to have a Henrico County Police squad car in front of school as a clear deterrent to trespassers that a school resource officer (SRO) protected our students, faculty and staff.

My working life before school resource officers was much different. Young people would come at lunch to meet their friends and also return to the parking lots at the end of the day. When I would approach those individuals, I often was cursed at because they knew that I had no authority over them. If I were to call the police, they knew they could leave before the police arrived.

The school-police partnership creating the SROs that developed with Henrico County Police prevented such problems from happening rather than dealing with them after the fact. The presence of a police officer who was known by the students and who knew the students remains a plan that should be the model everywhere. When police and students know each other, just as when faculty and students know each other, trust and respect soon happen. That is how future problems can be resolved.

In my 28 years with Henrico County Public Schools, I never had one abuse complaint against an SRO. I feel that any review of SROs across the area must include consideration of the serious crimes prevented by the presence of police in area schools — where statistics on crimes not committed never will exist.

John B. McGinty.

Henrico.

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