Monday, September 19, 2016

Welcome School Resource Officers!

Thanks to Needham’s Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick and Police Chief John Schlittler who recently announced the assignment of an additional School Resource Officer (SRO) for Needham’s schools. Officer Ryan O’Leary, a Needham High School and recent Boston College graduate, joins police veteran Vin Springer who has served this community for over 30 years as a crisis negotiator, field training officer, and for the last 13 years as the school liaison. The presence of School Resource Officers on our school campuses complements the strong relationship that exists between Needham’s public safety and school officials, and we are excited to have both men on board.  

Ryan O'Leary (left) and Vin Springer (right)
 SROs Springer and O’Leary will work closely with the schools, staff, students, and families to assist us as we focus on student safety, security, and wellbeing.  For example, the SROs have been trained on ALICE, our new school safety protocol, and they will collaborate with principals around student truancy, bullying, or other matters that may require support and intervention beyond the purview of a building administrator. Already both officers have been in each of the schools and have been a positive presence at lunch time in our cafeterias where they have met and interacted with students.  Principals at the elementary and middle school level are introducing the officers to children so that they can build connections and relationships.

 Over the last year there has been a lot of conversation about the role of police officers in our communities and their level of commitment and understanding, especially in communities of color.  Needham may not have all the challenges of a Boston or Baltimore, but Needham does strive to be a welcoming, inclusive, respectful, and just community.  The willingness of Town Manager Fitzpatrick and Chief Schlittler to designate two exceptional men to the position of School Resource Officer when staffing is already tight, is a testament to this community’s belief in the fair, decent, and dignified treatment of all people, regardless of age, race, gender, or ethnicity. 

Officer Vinny Springer and Officer Ryan O’Leary, thank you for your partnership with the schools, commitment to young people, and your service to this community!

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