As I drove to work today, I saw a placard on the corner of Townsend and Main with a “honk once if you support 2A; twice if you don’t,” so I honked once.
I support 2A and will gladly pay the 58 cents of every $100 I spend here in Montrose to get more school resource officers (SRO) for Montrose County School District.
One of my first experiences as a new assistant principal at Montrose High School was dealing with a bomb threat the FBI and Montrose Police Department shared with us from a social media app called “YikYak”, in 2010. The details gave us a time and a place. Still being relatively new to education from the US Army, I had memories of the effects an improvised explosive device. So, I took it a little more seriously than the bomb threats we got in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s while I was in high school. The fact that in last 100 years of US history there has only been three successful school bombings, didn’t weigh into my thinking that day. I chose to search the entire school.
I remember looking to Officer Trevis Booth, one of our school resource officers, and telling him my intentions. His response was, “how can we help?” In minutes, he coordinated for the entire SWAT team, who happened to be doing training in our wrestling room, to respond and support our teachers in our efforts to search the building.
Montrose Police Department’s response that day was exactly what our students and staff needed, and their willingness to help speaks to their long-established commitment to our schools. The MPD, since 1997, has had SROs in our schools;as a community, we have grown, and we have not been able to add more SROs. 2A gives us an opportunity to make that support stronger, make the SRO to student ratio half what it is now, and allow for us to have full-time coverage at our Secondary Schools. It will also allow for another SRO to focus on our primary schools. This will make our students safer. More importantly, it will make our students feel safer.
School resource officers make our schools safer. I suspect most of you remember the DARE officer or SRO at your high school. SROs are a visual reminder of your community’s commitment to safety and belief in the most valuable asset a community has – its youth.
Our SROs are outstanding. Officer Trevis Booth and Officer Dennis Beery are the two most senior officers in the MPD, with a wealth of experience and a fierce belief in the value and power of education. I have seen and experienced first-hand how their mere presence can calm down a situation, provide an experienced and well-trained hand in handling medical emergencies, help contain dangerous situations, counsel kids through difficult times, drive to a difficult home to check on a troubled student, and be there for staff and students when everyone is worried. Our SROs serve on Threat and Suicide Assessment Teams, they teach lessons on safety and law, they attend our athletic contests and school activities, enforce municipal and state law, and serve as a positive role model for our students. SROs are an educator’s partner in creating a safe and secure environment for our students to learn.
Effective schools research continually affirms that safety, both real and psychological safety, are a crucial element in our students being able to learn, think critically, and achieve excellence.
Our students have to deal with more than we ever did at their age. They worry about different things than we did, and the news cycle and digital world we live in brings violence anywhere in the U.S. right to them. Think of how much the Parkland Shooting in Florida affected Montrose a few years ago. The return on my investment for the SROs alone, not even accounting for the other benefits of 2A, for my son and daughter’s safety is worth .58 cents of every $100 I spend in Montrose.
Vote “yes” on 2A.
James Pavlich is director of safety and security for the Montrose County School District.