Public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, will not have school resource officers (SROs) in them when classes begin on Monday.
The school system said the position will be replaced by Community Engagement Officers, which will consist of police officers who patrol in areas around schools, but will not be in direct contact with school staff.
In emergencies, schools will call 911 and officers will be dispatched. The Community Engagement Officers will be sent if they are available.
“These Community Engagement Officers will be assigned to specific schools, but will be based in the community instead of inside those schools,” said James D’Andrea, chief of staff to the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. “They will not be stationed in schools, or on school grounds.”
The decision came after years of debate over the role of police officers in schools.
The Montgomery County Council had long debated the necessity of police officers stationed inside schools, with Council members Nancy Navarro, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer putting forward legislation proposing the change from placing officers directly inside schools to a model similar to the community engagement officer program.
In proposing the legislation, the bill’s sponsors pointed to data that show school resource officers disproportionately arrest Black and Hispanic students compared to white students.
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