From The Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville City Schools Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city’s School Resource Officers (SROs), and the school system, during its meeting on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.
The purpose of the MOU is to clarify the specific responsibilities of school employees and SROs and to improve the SRO program. The school system and the city hope the agreement will enhance student safety and enhance “relationships and communications among the involved law enforcement agencies, TCS, administrators, staff, students, parents, and community stakeholders.”
The MOU clarifies that SROs are employees of the Trussville Police Department and not the school system and that officers in schools “shall be responsible for carrying out all duties and responsibilities of a law enforcement officer and shall remain at all times under the control, through the chain of command, of TPD.” The MOU also states the officers will work to “build a positive relationship between local law enforcement and the youth of the Trussville community while preventing crime and maintaining the safety of the school community, and reducing the time students are excluded from class for disciplinary reasons.”
In the approved MOU, an officer will be provided at all TCS facilities, including all schools, the Board of Education building and at the stadium. The only time an officer will be removed from a TCS facility is if TPD staffing levels are low or if the officers are needed for an emergency.
Furthermore, the MOU states that in the case of a possible criminal act, SROs have the authority to issue citations and make arrests. Any questioning of students will have to be done with the principal or a principal designee present. Arrests should be executed in “such a manner as to avoid both embarrassment to the student or adult being arrested and without jeopardizing the safety and welfare of students and staff.”
SROs will also respond to emergency situations and evacuation drills in order to enhance the safety of students. The MOU outlines other responsibilities of SROs, including traffic safety, crime prevention programs, conflict resolution and mediation, drug and alcohol awareness, anti-bullying, violence prevention, gang awareness and community relations and outreach.
These are all protocols already in place for SROs, but the MOU simply puts these duties in writing. Many school systems across the U.S. have similar agreements.
The MOU must now be signed by TCS Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill, Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat and Trussville Police Chief Eric Rush.