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ACPS unveils new two-year agreement with police department for school resource officers

Alexandria police at Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 (staff photo by James Cullum)

After years in development, a new agreement was released between Alexandria City Public Schools and the Alexandria Police Department to provide school resource officers (SROs) at the city’s high school and middle schools.

The new memorandum of understanding between ACPS and APD has been a long time coming. SROs were defunded by the City Council in last year’s budget, and Alexandria City Public Schools spent the first few months of the 2021-2022 school year without the officers in its high school and middle schools. The officers were returned after ACPS pleaded with Council for their return in the wake of multiple incidents with weapons in schools.

“You will see that a lot of the MOU remains unchanged,” Alicia Hart, the ACPS chief of facilities and operations, told the School Board last Thursday night. “The areas where substantial updates and additions were added include the addition of the use of shared technology resources section, which speaks to the ways in which this partnership may transcend into the joint use of technology resources to support safety.”

Many updated are based on recommendations by the School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group, which formed last fall.

Those changes include police providing quarterly statistical reports with metrics to measure the effectiveness of their work, that school administrators complete ACPS Law Enforcement Occurrence Report forms, and that the school system meet with police quarterly to review SRO performance and data.

With juvenile crime is on the rise, the school system also plans to roll out a metal detector program this month.

There were 188 incidents requiring a police response within Alexandria City Public Schools in the first two quarters of the current school year, according to a school safety report. Seventeen Alexandria City Public School students were arrested. There were also 15 weapons-related incidents, 41 students injured, 44 fights/assaults and a report of sexual misconduct.

In March, an Alexandria City High School teacher confiscated handgun from a student and in April a suspended student was arrested for allegedly firing a gun near a bus stop at the Bradlee Shopping Center.

The current MOU expires on June 30.

City Council will discuss the matter with the School Board on May 15 (Monday), and the School Board will hold a public hearing and vote on it on May 18 (Thursday). If approved, the MOU will go into effect on July 1 and be renewed in 2025.

According to the proposed MOU:

  • Police will provide quarterly statistical reports with metrics to measure the effectiveness of the ACPS/APD partnership
  • School administrators must fill out an ACPS Law Enforcement Occurrence Report form within 24 hours of a law enforcement action at a school. Those actions may include assisting administrators as requested, investigations, referrals, and arrests
  • ACPS will participate in law enforcement sponsored/related educational activities and seminars
  • ACPS will handle discipline within schools and SROs should not be involved with enforcement of school rules or disciplinary infractions that are not violations of the law
  • APD must meet with APD in August, November, February and May of each school year to review SRO performance and discuss reporting data. The meetings will include daily SRO attendance, calls for assistance, incident reporting and educational activities with students
  • Each principal with an SRO must complete quarterly assessment forms
  • Principals will permit the SROs to complete an educational activity at their assigned school with a goal of one activity per quarter. Such an activity could include classroom briefings, student council briefings and other presentations
  • SROs may intervene to de-escalate situations. However, an SRO should not be involved in the physical restraint of a stuent unless there is imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others