ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A divided Howard County Board of Education on Thursday voted in favor of having School Resource Officers return for the 2021-2022 school year.
Only public high schools will have a resource officer assigned to them, elementary and middle schools will not.
In April County Executive Calvin Ball recommended that resource officers be removed from middle schools.
The vote hinged on a Memorandum of Understanding between the school system and police department.
It calls for schools to provide resource officers with training on restorative justice, racial equity, disability awareness, and deescalation techniques.
The agreement also clarifies that most student misconduct will be addressed by the school administration rather than police having to get involved. In the case where an officer needs to question a student during an investigation, the student will be allowed to first contact a parent.
Resource officers will no longer wear their standard police uniform inside schools and will instead don more softer attire. Officers will also be required to wear body worn cameras when available.
The student disciplinary process, change in uniform, and body worn cameras were all sticking points for Ball, who at the time said, “there is an opportunity to foster better relationships and a better understanding between the police the community and our youth so hopefully we can grow another the next generation to not feel as anxious as afraid as current and past generations when it comes to police interaction.”
Additionally, the Memorandum of Understanding establishes a process for complaints to be made against a resource officer which allows the school system to decline the placement of a particular officer at a specific school, or request that an officer be reassigned pending an internal investigation.
Read the entire Memorandum of Understanding below.