Bellevue schools to launch replacement for school resource officer program
The Bellevue School District is partnering with the Bellevue Police Department to launch a new version of the school resource officer program.
The name, mission and role of the old program have been changed to mirror that of mentor, guardian and educator under the new Community Engagement Officer Program.
The program, which will start this fall, will focus on keeping students out of trouble by building relationships with them as well as their families, district staff and the community.
The officers in the CEO program will provide safety, support, and resources for students. The school resource officer program was redesigned to cultivate trusting relationships between students and officers to provide a safe environment with shared problem solving, according to the district.
Community engagement officers will contribute to school safety teams, help empower students and be specifically trained to work with students and families.
“Safety is built on trust and positive relationships, including those between faculty, school administrators, students, parents, and law enforcement. The Community Engagement Officer Program will develop collaborative problem-solving strategies to resolve issues affecting our youth and help every child reach their full potential,” said Director of BSD Security Doug James.
When Bellevue schools moved to remote learning in March 2020, school resource officers who were assigned to the district returned to their regular patrol duties.
“Shortly after that, in response to the death of individuals at the hands of law enforcement, the Washington State Legislature passed laws requiring changes to SRO Programs in K-12 settings. This included specialized training for assigned officers and a yearly review of any implemented program,” a news release from the Bellevue School District said.
In October 2020, an advisory committee was formed and the school district began to critically look at the role of police in schools.
BSD Interim Superintendent Art Jarvis chose to reform the existing program. A design task force was formed to develop a new program model, which is now the Community Engagement Officer role.