MILTON — The Milton Town School District renewed its School Resource Officer (SRO) contract with the town police department for another three years.
Despite community conversations about potential alterations to the SRO position, the only major edit to the contract was the addition of the following sentence to further clarify duties:
“The SRO will act in accordance with the recommended TRIAD roles of law enforcement officer, teacher and informal counselor/mentor but do not enforce school rules or policies or do not become involved with matters that are strictly school discipline issues.”
Police Chief Stephen Laroche told the Selectboard at a meeting Aug. 30 the sentence was added to clearly articulate that the SRO is not, and will never be, involved with student discipline.
Current SRO Kendra Raymond also explained this to Milton’s Police Advisory Committee in April.
“I explain to [students], ‘I'm in here because I want you to succeed,’” she said. “I'm in there as a teacher wearing that hat. I'm not there to figure out who is speeding after school and who's not wearing their seatbelt.”
The contract includes no changes to the SRO’s uniform, even though a small percentage of students said in a survey last year that the current police uniform makes them feel uncomfortable.
“Regardless of how friendly the resource officer is, due to the abundance of equipment and way the equipment is presented, [the SRO] seems less approachable and more frightening,” one student stated. Others wrote-in similar statements.
After discussing the uniform at a few meetings, the school and Selectboard tabled the conversation in December 2020, saying at the time that it would hold listening sessions with the community in fall 2021.
Though those sessions have still not been scheduled, Superintendent Amy Rex, Chief Laroche and Foody haven’t forgotten about them.
“We’ve discussed it internally...on a minor level, but we are looking forward to that meeting with stakeholders to determine the other ideas surrounding the uniform,” Michaela Foody, Milton’s public safety director, said.
Rick Dooley, chair of the school board, said on Aug. 30 he hopes the organized discussions will occur as soon as it becomes safe to gather again in large groups.
The new contract is still only for one SRO, though Raymond told the Police Advisory Committee she thinks a second officer would benefit the district.
“I’m not saying my workload is a lot, but it’s the presence,” she said on April 13. “You don’t notice how big it is, going between three schools, until you are doing it."