SRO Program Advisory Committee – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How were the SRO Program Advisory Committee members selected?
Members of the committee were selected by executive staff to provide a diverse set of voices to review the program. Members of the committee include secondary students, educators, administrators, parents, law enforcement, individuals of color, and district leadership.
What documents and resources has the advisory committee reviewed?
The advisory committee has reviewed and explored the history of the SRO program in the Bellevue SD, the most current MOU between Bellevue PD and the Bellevue SD, data collected on the interaction between Bellevue PD SROs and Bellevue SD students, monthly activity reports filed by Bellevue PD SROs, the experiences and stories of students and their interactions with SROs in the district, national data and reports on SRO programs, and administrator input on the Bellevue PD SRO program.
When will a report of the committee’s work be produced?
The committee is committed to present a report to the Superintendent and the Board during June 2021. This report will focus on the goals, limitations, and objectives of the SRO program as well as recommendations on the goals, limitations, and objectives of the program.
Who will make the final decision as to whether the SRO program continues in the Bellevue School District? What is the time frame for this decision?
The Superintendent, in consultation his executive leadership team, will ultimately make the decision as to whether the SRO program continues in the BSD. There is no set time frame for this decision, as the district is committed to getting the decision right and not simply making a decision to comply with a time frame.
I didn’t know that we had School Resource Officers in our schools. When did this program begin? How many officers are there, and what kind of training to the officer’s receive that prepares them for a school setting? Who pays for this program?
The SRO program began in 1997 as part of broader community policing efforts within the City of Bellevue. The program is a partnership between the Bellevue PD and the Bellevue SD wherein up to six specially trained Bellevue PD Officers are assigned to our schools with four officers being assigned to our comprehensive high schools and two middle school rovers. The officers are commissioned law enforcement officers who have received specialized training in juvenile justice, de-escalation techniques, laws regarding restraint and isolation, recognizing and responding to youth mental health issues, bias-free policing, and other topics regarding adolescents. The district pays for a portion of the officer’s salaries, which currently totals approximately $306,000 per year for six officers.
Do SROs wear police uniforms while they are in our school buildings? Are they armed?
Yes, assigned Bellevue PD SROs wear regular police uniforms and are armed with handguns. Like most police officers, they also wear a duty belt with handcuffs, extra magazines for their handgun, flashlight, pepper spray, radio, ballistic vest, and other life-safety equipment such as tourniquets for bleeding control efforts. Although police uniforms are not required, some form of law enforcement identification is required for officer safety in the event of a critical incident to prevent misidentification and tragedies.
How will our school buildings operate during hybrid-learning?
During hybrid learning, schools will operate in a “lockout” manner for the hours of school operation, up to and including one hour before and after school. Lockout means all exterior doors are secured during the school day and there is no unauthorized entry or exit. Access to our school buildings will be limited to the students that attend that school and assigned building staff. All non-essential visitors to schools will be prohibited. Our updated visitor policy includes BSD staff members from other buildings who are not considered essential. Visitors to our school buildings will be limited to essential district staff, such as the Director of Health Services, the Director of Security, and select members of the District’s Executive Team.
In the absence of an SRO, what measures are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our kids?
The school district employs a multi-layered approach to ensure the safety of our students and staff. This includes, but is not limited to:
- social emotional learning and Mental Health Assistance Teams to support our students
- trained staff in the Incident Command System and emergency response efforts
- monthly emergency drills (PDF) conducted by students and staff to practice and reinforce their response to critical incidents
- single point of entry with limited building access
- door locks and alarms; multi-disciplinary school-based School Safety Teams to assess risks and recommend safety improvements at the building level
- life-safety response equipment (lockdown buttons, AEDs, disaster medical supplies and bleeding control kits)
- emergency supply caches
- SafeSchools tip line for the reporting of safety concerns and Harassment Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) violations
- electronic visitor management system
- Employee ID badging; regular physical security audits conducted by the Safety and Security Department
- communication systems (radios and intercoms)
- security cameras
- threat assessment (PDF) process and procedure to address safety concerns and provide appropriate interventions and supports
- A strong relationship with our local first responders including Bellevue PD, Clyde Hill PD, Medina PD, and Bellevue Fire Department and their commitment to the timely responsiveness to concerns and incidents at our schools.
If SROs are not going to be in our schools during the review of the program, will there still be support from Bellevue PD and other local law enforcement jurisdictions? What will this look like?
The Bellevue SD enjoys an outstanding relationship with the three local law enforcement jurisdictions within the boundary of our school district. This includes Bellevue PD, Clyde Hill PD, and Medina PD. These departments are professional and highly responsive to the needs of the school district. If a school needs law enforcement support on a criminal matter affecting the school setting, police are a 9-1-1 call away. Police dispatchers are specially trained to triage calls for service, and prioritize calls based upon life-safety needs. Normal response time for a priority one call with the Bellevue PD is just over 3 minutes 3 seconds, which is below the average response time for similar size cities.
There has been recent state legislation regarding SROs in the school setting. How will this affect any continuation of the program in the Bellevue SD?
Recent legislation regarding SRO programs in the school setting was codified in law under RCW 28A.320.124. This legislation requires, amongst other things, specifics training for SROs; an annual agreement that involves parent, student, and community input; clearly defined complaint process; and the annual collection and reporting of data regarding calls for law enforcement service and the outcome of each call, including student arrest and referral for prosecution, disaggregated by school, offense type, race, gender, age, and students who have an individualized education program or plan.
If the decision is made to continue with the SRO program, will there be availability for input from the community on what the program should look like?
If the decision is made to continue with the SRO program, it will necessitate the renewal of an MOU that is in compliance with RCW 28A.320.124. Any such MOU will involve community input, School Board discussion, and subsequent approval.
Why is the committee meeting and why the change from what was done in the past?
COVID-19 provided an opportunity to re-imagine many important aspects of education, including how we provide security and a safe environment to support all students. The committee realizes the important work of SROs and meets regularly to discuss and plan more holistic approaches to discipline, including supports from the City of Bellevue, and community-based organizations, that are crucial interventions prior to police involvement. This strategic direction is meant to support students and families before punitive measures occur, creating a proactive system of support, helping all families thrive in a safe school environment.
Additional questions or concerns about the SRO program?