Sunday, July 6, 2003

Schools say cops lower violations

SROs cleaning up Campbell

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Students at Campbell County High School and Campbell County Middle School served 497 suspension days during the 2002-'03 school year, down from 739 the previous year.

Law violations also dropped this past year compared to 2001-'02 - from 54 to 33 at the high school and from 48 to 18 at the middle school.

Fights and assaults at the high and middle schools also decreased, from 64 to 39 and 34 to 28, respectively.

"I'd say the improvement was mainly because we had uniformed SROs (school resource officers) at both schools," said Dave Feldmann, the school safety coordinator for the Campbell County School District this past year.

An SRO is a uniformed police officer who patrols a school each day. There are between 100 and 150 SROs in the state, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

Jim Strickland of the Alexandria Police Department worked at the middle school, while Chris Juniet of the Campbell County police force manned the high school.

Juniet was at school by 6:30 each morning and patrolled the halls for about an hour after school ended. He was also at extracurricular events throughout the year.

"My main purpose was to be there for safety, to let them know I'm there and to be a presence," Juniet said.

His presence was felt immediately. While no calls were made to police from the high school in 2001-'02, 21 were made this past year. There were 19 expulsions at the two schools in 2002-'03, compared to eight the previous year.

"That's not an indication that things have gotten worse," Feldmann said. "It just means that the tolerance for certain things has lowered because of the resource officers."

Joanne McDaniel, director of the Center for Prevention of School Violence in North Carolina, said the statistics at Campbell County High School are typical of other schools nationwide who hire resource officers.

"Usually what happens is when SROs go into schools, the numbers increase because they are cleaning up the place," said McDaniel. "As they get established during the year, the numbers will drop."

The costs for the SROs are shared by the police departments, school district and a federal grant.


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