In a letter dated November 16th, 2021, Allan Kittleman offered testimony opposing Howard County Bill 1-2022, the bill to remove School Resource Officers from Howard County Public Schools.
Text of the letter:
November 16, 2021
Senator Clarence Lam, Chair
Miller Senate Office Building, Room 420
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Delegate Courtney Watson, Chair
House Office Building, Room 350
6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Re: Testimony in Opposition to Ho. Co. Bill 1-2022
Dear Chair Lam, Chair Watson, and other Howard County Delegation Members,
Howard County School Resource Officers (SROs) play a critical role in protecting our students and ensuring they have a strong learning environment in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). Further, there is no doubt that the presence of SROs in HCPSS schools creates an opportunity for our youth to foster a better relationship with our public safety community.
I have visited every school in the county numerous times, and I have heard story after story about how SROs are able to help students both in and out of school. In addition to promoting safety and providing security, SROs play an integral role in helping teach classes, mentoring, and assisting students with issues such as bullying, both in-person and on social media. They also provide after school support with academic programs, educational field trips on school holidays, and participation in many summer youth programs, such as the C.A.P. – Community Athletic Program, Bear Trax Summer Camp, and leadership youth camps.
Our SROs in Howard County care deeply about the health and well-being of our students. When I was County Executive, a student at a high school went missing for over a week. Friends and family had not heard from the missing student for days. But thankfully, she reached out to an SRO through her cellphone to say she was okay but needed some help and guidance. After several days of communicating with the SRO at different hours of the day, she agreed to meet with officers and get the help she needed. This only happened because of positive engagement which ultimately led to a trusting relationship that may have saved her life.
I have not heard of a single instance where the presence of an SRO has negatively impacted a student in our community. Not one. But even if there was one, we should work together to address it rather than universally scrap a program so integral to protecting and helping our teachers and students.
We should also not overlook the threat of school shootings and the impact this bill will have in delaying the response to one. It was only a few years ago that here in Maryland there was a shooting at Great Mills High School, which injured two students and could have resulted in a
greater tragedy if not for the presence of an SRO. This is a very real threat. As the father of a HCPSS teacher, the grandfather of a future HCPSS student, and a long-standing member of our community, I want SROs to be in our schools to protect our children, teachers, and other school staff.
Just as it is difficult to describe all the tangible and intangible ways an experienced, caring teacher or administrator contributes to his or her school; it is equally difficult to list all that an SRO can do for a school and its surrounding community.
Please put the safety of our children, educators, and school staff above politics. We should continue to show the rest of the country how our SROs are an integral part of our school system and can be an asset to students and staff.
For these reasons, I urge the Delegation to reject this legislation and give the bill an unfavorable report.
3030 Kittleman Lane
West Friendship, MD 21794