PROGRAMS FOR SAFE SCHOOLS
The Asheville City Schools implemented a School Resource Officer program in 1991. This program consists of a police officer assigned to the high school and one to the middle school to act as positive role models for students. The School Resource Officer consists of three primary roles. They are first and foremost a police officer that enforces laws and investigates crimes that occur against the school, the students or staff. The School Resource Officer also teaches students and staff law-related educational programs on a wide variety of topics including preventing weapons at school, criminal law, constitutional law, alcohol abuse and many more. Finally, the School Resource Officer is a counselor and friend to whom students and staff can come for law-related assistance.
The program started with a grant from the North Carolina Governors Safe Schools Program in 1991. It started with only one officer assigned to the High School. The program was expanded in 1994 after receiving another grant to two officers, adding one to the middle school. The program was expanded a third time in 1996 with still another grant to include an officer in the elementary schools. The funding was provided through part of this grant and also local funding. In 1997, the entire School Resource Officer program became funded through local funds within the Asheville City Schools. Over the past few years there has been a steady reduction in charges for violent crimes as shown below in the statistics for the Asheville City Schools.
* Indicates statistics were only available for half the school year.
In 1996, a closed circuit TV system was implemented at Asheville Middle School. This system consists of cameras placed throughout the school and are monitored by the School Resource Officer and recorded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This system is designed to protect the students and staff by monitoring and recording all persons coming onto Asheville Middle School campus. It also allows the protection of the school property against break-ins and thefts. To date the system has assisted in the apprehension of a subject with a weapon at school, an arrest of two subjects for a break-in during which a computer and several other items were taken, a subject coming onto campus to obtain a urine sample from several other students for an employment drug test, an arrest for a larceny from a vehicle in the parking lot and even a hit and run accident on school property was solved with the CCTV cameras. These apprehensions would not have been possible without the cameras. Funding for the cameras came from a grant from the North Carolina Safe Schools Act of 1994. This funding is provided for implementing programs designed at reducing school violence within the North Carolina public schools. The grant allowed for the basic foundation of the CCTV system by purchasing the time lapse recorder, sixteen camera multiplexer, video monitor and four cameras. The system was expanded in 1997 and 1998 through local funds to fifteen cameras currently. In 1996, a program was implemented at Asheville Middle School. This program is the School Safety Patrol through the AAA Association of the Carolinas, and has been around since the 1950ís. The program uses students to patrol the halls of the school, reporting violations of school rules and criminal laws by two-way radios to the School Resource Officer. The students also patrol the parking lot before and after school to allow students to cross the road and assist vehicles picking up their students.
The Safety Patrol students wear badges identifying them and orange reflective vests to make them highly visible to all. This program has been very successful since it was implemented and has made Asheville Middle School a safer place for everyone. This program is totally funded through local funds within the Asheville City Schools and the local PTO Foundation. The annual cost of this program is approximately one hundred dollars ($100.00) for uniform equipment, training manuals, badges and safety gear. The two-way radios are approximately two hundred dollars ($200.00) each and one is purchased each year until a total of ten (10) are acquired. With the presence of the School Safety Patrol the total number of violations are decreasing each year. A School Crime Stoppers program was started in 1995 at Asheville Middle School. This program allows students to report crimes which occur in their school and receive a cash reward upon an arrest and conviction. The students use a telephone number (258-6406) to report crimes 24 hours a day or a suggestion box located in the main lobby to report crimes during school hours. The students remain totally anonymous and never have to testify in court. To date, this program has given out over $500 and solved over 20 crimes. This program has been a great success at Asheville Middle School. This program is totally locally funded through the Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers Program. The annual cost of this program is approximately one thousand dollars ($1000.00) including rewards paid out, phone line and printed posters and papers.
Officer Keith McCulloch, SRO, Ph: (828)258-6406, FAX (828)255-5311.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.