High schoolers organize Montgomery Co. vigil to keep police out of schools

A group of high schoolers gathered in Montgomery County, Maryland, to call attention to a new proposal that would place armed officers in schools after the School Resource Officer Program was discontinued.

Montgomery County high school students stood in front of the Carver Educational Services Center building Sunday — where the school board meets — to get their message out.

“Putting in the CEO 2.0 program is not going to keep us safer, and it is actually just going to cause more trauma,” said 15-year-old Hanan Miles, a freshman at Montgomery Blair High School and an organizer with Sunrise Silver Spring.

After a shooting at Magruder High School in January left one student injured, calls have grown for the return of police officers in schools. County officials said the community engagement officer program — which requires police “response but not presence” — could be adjusted if the school system asks for changes.

Montgomery County high school students held signs, spoke over a megaphone and played music during an event protesting a proposal that would put armed officers in schools. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Miles and the group called for Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight to drop the recently proposed Community Engagement Officers or “CEO 2.0” program that would put armed police officers into schools, but not at the same level as the previously used school resource officers (SROs).

If community engagement officers return to schools, Miles said she thinks it’s like bringing back SROs.

“It’s very, very similar,” Miles said.

Carmella Beach, 15, who also attends Montgomery Blair, said she doesn’t think the proposed CEO 2.0 program is the answer to school safety concerns.

“At the beginning of this year, they took police out of schools but then didn’t put any other prevention in. We don’t have any social workers or increased counseling,” Beach said.

The CEO 2.0 program would give police designated workstations at each high school for the CEO, but the officer would not be permanently stationed there.

“There has been an increase in violence in schools this year, but it’s not because there’s no police,” Beach said. “It’s just because they didn’t put that mental health support in there.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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