LONGMEADOW, MA – The Longmeadow Police Dept. has initiated the process of implementing a new school resource officer (SRO) for the town’s middle and elementary schools.
In a letter sent to all patrol officers on July 13, 2018, Police Chief John Stankiewicz welcomed applications for the position, which would initially be a part-time assignment.
According to the accompanying job description, “The SRO will work effectively with students, parents, school personnel and community agencies to support teaching and learning in the schools. The School Resource Officer will patrol district property to protect students, staff and visitors from physical harm and prevent loss to district property resulting from criminal activity. In addition to providing a presence to promote a safe and orderly environment, the School Resource Officer is also available to provide mentoring and counseling and to assist with the educational mission.”
Stankiewicz explained in his letter that a dramatic increase in requests for service from the schools made it apparent that the position was necessary in order to ease the burden on the department’s current SRO, as well as other patrol officers.
“In light of the active shooter incidents occurring nationally and more frequently with the most recent incidents in Parkland, [Florida] and Santa Fe, [Texas] still being fresh in everyone’s mind, this administration has fielded requests for increased police presence in all schools,” he wrote, adding officers on the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift primarily respond to this need currently.
The police department also bears the burden of enhanced school safety initiatives such as lock-down drills, bomb threat exercises, internet safety training for students and parents, traffic monitoring, and Halloween safety.
“This is just an overview of the barrage of request received,” Stankiewicz added. “Unfortunately, I anticipate this to be the new normal.”
He noted service calls at the middle and elementary schools increased 24 percent since 2015, and 51 of the 141 investigations conducted by the current SRO originated from those schools. Principals at the middle and elementary schools have been “clamoring for additional police presence,” he said, explaining investigations have included domestic issues, vandalism, and larcenies.
The new position could transition to a full-time role and the decision on whether it would is “heavily dependent on the commitment, energy and effort demonstrated by the officer selected” as well as the continued need for such a position, according to Stankiewicz.
Stankiewicz will accept applications for the position through Aug. 1.
Town Manager Stephen Crane reported to the Select Board on July 16 that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has approved the plan for abatement of asbestos found at the construction site for the new Department of Public Works Facility.
Contractor WJ Mountford’s proposal includes a price tag of $280,500, which would be funded by the project’s contingency budget of $900,000.
Crane also noted in his Town Manager’s Report that the town had released a request for qualifications for an
owner’s project manager (OPM) for the Adult Center, which is required in order for work to begin. The window for proposal submissions closes on July 19. Once an OPM is retained, Catlin Design Associates’ design agreement can be executed. With a six-month estimated design timeframe, Crane estimated the town would be ready to go out to bid for construction in early 2019. Crane had previously stated to the board that the early part of the year is an advantageous time to seek bids, as they tend to be financially beneficial to the town.
– By Chris Maza