At the last meeting of the Milford School Board of Education, members of the Board approved the hiring of three additional School Resource Officers for the Milford School District. According to Superintendent Phyllis Kohel, the Milford School Board has been talking about additional School Resource officers for several years and the closing of the Milford Middle School helped the decision to be made.
“With the savings from the Milford Middle School closing what better way to spend that money than to increase the safety and security of our students,” commented Kohel. “The goal is to create a better relationship between the school and the community, officers in the classroom will have a better pulse not only of the schools but in our community.”
At the projected cost of $100,000 per officer, the three officers will be paid for by the Milford School District, not by the Milford Police Department which pays the current Resource Officer that covers all seven schools in the district, officer Joey Melvin. One officer will be located at Morris Early Childhood Center, a second officer will float between Mispillion Elementary and Lulu Ross Elementary and the third officer will float between Benjamin Banneker Elementary and Milford High School. Officer Melvin will be located at the Milford Central Academy. Melvin is excited to see the opportunities that three new officers will afford to the students and the impact on the Milford community.
“It is important to know that the new School Resource Officers are more than just armed guards,” commented Officer Melvin. “These officers will add proactive improvements to the climate at each school by going into the classrooms to talk with the students.” Officer Melvin has worked in the Milford School District developing programs to teach students about cyberbullying, smart decision making and is also involved in the Milford Motivation Mentoring Program.
The Milford Police Department (MPD) will ultimately choose which officers are assigned as School Resource Officers; they could be current Milford police officer or from outside the department. The officers will be located at school sites during the day but can add to the overall safety and security of the entire community through their work. According to Officer Melvin, the officers will be concerned with more than just law enforcement as they become educators and informal counselors in their respective schools.
“I look forward to breaking down that barriers between the police and kids in the community,” commented Melvin. “Many times the only interaction kids have with police officers is when something negative happens in their neighborhoods, we want these kids to see cops as a positive force at school and in the community.”
The School Resource Officers will also be trained to follow the emergency procedure plans that were set in place in Milford under the Omnibus School Safety Act of 2012. The act required the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security to work with schools, districts and first responders to develop comprehensive, up-to-date safety plans and lay out the responsibilities of the department, schools and districts during an emergency. The Milford School District would like to see the three new School Resource Officers begin their duty at each school during the 2013-2014 school year.
“The relationship the SRO builds with the students encourages communication when a student knows of and wants to report a safety concern, stated Melvin. “Adding SRO’s will significantly improve response time to emergencies, provide additional assistance in the implementation and practice of our current safety plans and be a constant presence on campus which will be a deterrence to potential crimes.”