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SRO program getting a bad rap

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LAST week Friday, I was granted the opportunity to meet with Chief Justice Carbullido and his staff on the issue of School Resource Officers (SROs) and the controversy that surrounds this valuable program. This meeting was essential to me because I did not want to go into the new year with this open-ended issue in its current state.

One can recall the crisis at Southern High School several years ago, where it was discovered that minors and adults were selling drugs on campus. This particular case also involved a firearm, making the situation extremely dangerous and volatile. During that time, as the director of the Department of Youth Affairs, my staff and I collaborated with the Guam Police Department's Juvenile Investigation Division and the Judiciary’s Juvenile Probation Officers to solve and stop the offenders’ criminal behavior, as well as recover their weapon.

All of this took place without major incident, and the “bad guys” received their due punishment. I make this point to illustrate that when done properly, the SRO program serves to make, and keep, our schools safe and the great learning environments that they are supposed to be!
When the staff of the Judiciary gave me a rundown of the current SRO program they put in place, I was so impressed that I suggested we hold a roundtable discussion in order to grant them the ability to illustrate the benefits of the program to the public. I believe the public will find comfort in knowing all the details of the program as well as the individuals who are tasked to carry out the mission of keeping our children’s schools safe. The extent of training and work that has gone into this effort is praise-worthy in itself.

Thus, I have sent a letter to Speaker Wonpat requesting to schedule a roundtable to bring together all stakeholders at her earliest convenience. I am hopeful that DYA's Youth Development Division will agree to do a presentation on the SRO model that we developed during my tenure there. Perhaps they can marry the pros of these programs to aid with issues plaguing DYA.

Furthermore, I’d like to note that the standard operating procedure regarding firearms at DYA is to have them secured in an undisclosed location, thereby preventing unnecessary use – yet available if needed. Hopefully this is a viable solution to the SRO controversy!

Stay tuned for updates, and may you and your family have a Happy New Year!

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