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Stewart Reverses Proposal to Cut School Resource Officers

The Newton, Conn., shooting that killed 20 children has led Chairman Corey Stewart to nix his proposal to reassign middle school officers to other beats. On Tuesday, he proposed adding additional officers.

Due to the December shootings at Newtown, Conn., Chairman Corey Stewart on Tuesday reversed his prior proposal to reassign several school resource officers, and said the county should instead consider hiring additional officers. 

In October, Stewart had suggested shifting four of the county's five middle school resource officers back to patrol. He said at the time that the move . 

Last month, a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, including 20 children aged six and seven.

"I think in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., it only makes sense to withdraw that proposal. In fact, I want to see if there might be ways to expand the SRO program, of course within our means," Stewart said at a Board of County Supervisors meeting. 

Stewart said he would like for school and county staff to review school security and come up with recommendations to improve security. 

"I've got two children in schools in Prince William County," Stewart said. "I'm not worried about their safety. But every school system, in light of Newtown, across the country, needs to review security. There's always ways to improve it." 

County executive Melissa Peacor said that she had recently met with the police chief and his staff regarding the Newtown tragedy and security needs at local schools. She said she would meet with the school superintendent soon as well.

"We are going to come to you again as part of the budget process again, of course within our means," Peacor said. 

Prince William County currently has SROs at all the high schools and at five middle schools. 

Supervisor John Jenkins called Stewart's position "a bold move. I would totally support what you're doing."

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt January 10, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Though it's the smart move, it's not "a bold move," as Jenkins says. It so happens the decision is politically convenient as well. However, why did it take a tragedy to open Stewart's eyes? He says he's always felt his children were safe in school, but he has been blind to the numbers of people who don't have to check in but who can walk into a school after hours. He hasn't seen that anyone can enter, during school hours, with a hidden weapon or a false ID. He hasn't seen that a parent sitting at a desk and handing out volunteer or visitor stickers has little chance of keeping out criminals. He hasn't noticed that kids walk from trailers into the school during the day, and that there is no one out in the schoolyard to protect the students, even during recess. I know this because I've sat at one of these desks, have been on a playground, and have walked from a trailer to the main building. Sometimes those trailers aren't even locked. On a different note but regarding security, I once got lost looking for the PWC animal shelter. Since no one was around and I needed directions, I went to a building close to where PWC parks the buses. I just walked right in, past offices with no people in them and finally, into a workshop of some kind where I found a man who was helpful. I said to him, "I don't mean to freak you out, but there's no one out there. I just walked right in. What if I had a gun? I mean, I don't, but where' your security?"
Jill Grissom January 11, 2013 at 06:29 AM
Manassas City Schools needs to put an SRO back in the elementary schools. It's not just a security issue. It's a connection between the schools and the police department, a relationship building/community building move, a chance for the children to see the police as someone who cares about them. I think it was short-sighted to have taken them out, and I think it's sad that it takes a tragedy like Sandy Hook for Chairman Stewart to decide they're a good idea after all. Be proactive, not reactive!!

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