Dracut Adds More School Resource Officers
Jun 26, 2019 05:30AM
By Lisa Redmond
Dracut High School
DRACUT – When the school doors open again in September, the Dracut students and staff will see more blue uniforms in the hallways after Dracut Police Chief Peter Bartlett said he has added two more school resource officers to provide a positive police presence in all the schools.
“We’ve all seen school violence on television,’’ Bartlett told the School Committee on Monday. And while the police department has already assigned Dracut Police Officer Eric Koukos as a school resource office, “I don’t believe one SRO is enough.’’
The school system consists of nine school buildings and a total of about 4,000 students and staff. “That’s a small town,’’ Bartlett said.
As a result of some innovative scheduling by Deputy Chief Stephen Chaput, and a partnership with the School Department, three officers as SROs will be assigned to the schools. Koukos spends most of his time at the high school, the additional two SROs will be assigned to the elementary schools and middle school.
There is no additional cost to the school department, barring the cost to send the new SROs to be trained over the summer. Koukos will return as an SRO, primarily at the high school. Bartlett did not disclose the names of the other officers.
The three SROs will help support the increased security measures at all the town’s schools, Bartlett said. “It’s giving us an added safety factor,’’ he said. Bartlett praised Koukos’ work as having “laid the foundation for a successful program.’’
Bartlett stressed the SROs are not in the schools to arrest students, but to integrate the police into the school community. “They are our eyes and ears on the ground level,’’ he said. “They have the knowledge and the interaction with students to interject themselves before something happens,’’ he said.
It is particularly important to have SROs interacting with elementary school students so they learn to trust the police and have positive interactions with students and their parents, which Bartlett describes as “invaluable.’’
What bothers Bartlett is when he hears parents telling their children if they misbehave the police officer will take them away.
“If I had a nickel for every time I heard that,’’ he said. “It bothers me. We want to break down barriers.’’