Together with Biddeford High School Principal Jeremie Sirois, I am developing new legislation that will improve the ability of School Resource Officers to provide safety and support beyond the school grounds. It is often thought that a cop is a cop no matter where he or she is, but that is not the case. Generally speaking, a policeman can stop a dangerous situation outside of their jurisdiction, but can not issue arrests or summons outside of that area. It is possible for officers to be sworn in to provide policing services in other jurisdictions, but that is relatively complex process. Another issue is that the lines of liability resulting from this swearing in process may not be clear. These factors make it difficult or even unlikely that an SRO will be able to provide oversight at an off-site event.
Consider the case of students at a prom at a Portland hotel. There will generally be a police presence, but will those police know the kids – who is a troublemaker and who is just a prankster, and who should, and even more important, should not be there? That’s why the role of the School Resource Officer, who is woven into the fabric of the school community and knows the students well, is so important.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting this important piece of legislation to make it easier for SRO’s to remain part of the the school community on travels to athletic events and other school functions.