MCPS Signs Memorandum of Understanding, Bringing Community Engagement Officers to Schools |

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Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced a new agreement on April 26 with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and the Montgomery County government called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will enhance the curriculum guiding law enforcement support to MCPS schools.

The MOU was created through collaborative work between MCPD, MCPS, and input from the student, parent, and staff community. This included 10 focus groups of students from all three levels of education, parent focus groups in all high schools, youth-police dialogues with police representatives in each MCPS police district, a virtual community conversation on student safety and well-being with over 1,000 participants. , and countywide student forums at all MCPS high schools. In a statement released by MCPS, they announced that through these engagement activities, they have found “the Community Engagement Officer (CEO) program is a necessary part of an informed, thoughtful and comprehensive response to ensure the safety of all students and staff.

At the start of the current school year, uniformed police officers were removed from MCPS school buildings and replaced by the CEO program. Rather than having uniformed police stationed inside schools, officers are now assigned to cover clusters of schools. CEOs have an office in the school building and have the authority to respond to student service calls. However, PDGs will not be permanently stationed at schools and have no authority over student discipline or enforcement of MCPS rules.

The Memorandum of Understanding lists the duties of Community Engagement Officers. CEO duties include serving as a liaison between their agency and MCPS officials for police-related concerns and incidents, handling school service calls with responsibility for investigating calls while minimizing disruptions to the day school, deliver law enforcement programs such as DARE and crime prevention, keep abreast of current gang trends, and coordinate assistance at major school events as needed. While on MCPS property, CEOs will have full authority as police officers, but are expected to recognize and work within the authority of the Director.

Students have argued against police presence in schools and effectively scrapped the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program for the start of the current school year. Advocates of policeless schools argue that law enforcement in schools reinforces the criminalization of young students of color. “Study after study has shown the disproportionate effect this (SRO) program has had on the criminalization of black, brown, and disabled students. Despite the fact that no national or Maryland study has found that increased police presence decreases school violence,” student council member Hana Olooney said in a statement to the Officers Task Force. of school board resources in 2021.

After conversations with students, parents, and staff, MCPS made the decision to bring law enforcement back to schools through the CEO Program and Memorandum of Understanding. “The extensive social-emotional and mental health support we are putting in place with this new agreement with our law enforcement partners is the right solution at this time,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight.


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