After a long absence, Newport schools again have have a sworn police officer walking their halls bringing a police presence to help ensure student safety, crime prevention and one-on-one contact for students that may require help with life circumstances.
“We are pleased to announce the return of a School Resource Officer for Newport schools,” stated Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda and LCSD Superintendent Steve Boynton. Officer Dustin Watson has been assigned to the four Newport schools.
A school resource officer (SRO) is a sworn law enforcement officer that operates within the school environment. A SRO proactively promotes school safety and supports school success by: a) educating students and staff on issues today’s youth struggle with; b) developing positive and trusting relationships with students and staff; and c) assisting school principals with law enforcement issues at school.
“It has been many years since we have been able to have one of our officers in the local schools. The positive relationships developed go a long way toward making our community a safer and more welcoming place,” said Chief Miranda.
Officer Watson has been with the Newport Police Department for four months, and was with the Brookings Police Department for 15 years where he was an SRO and dog handler.
The cost of the officer is being shared between the Newport Police Department and LCSD. Bank of the Cascades has also pledged $5,000 per year for three years for this effort.
The SRO is responsible for handling incidents that occur on school property during normal school hours and after school events. SRO responsibilities include:
1. Child abuse investigations
2. Criminal damage to school property
3. Theft of school property
4. Theft of personal property
5. Protection of school personnel
6. Training of school personnel in handling emergencies
7. Assistance in writing school emergency policies
8. Prevention of illegal drugs on school property
9. Seizure of firearms and other illegal weapons on school property
10. Attending after school events, such as dances, ball games, festivals, etc.
11. Assisting in reducing intimidation/bullying of students by other students
(a) SROs shall perform initial and follow-up investigations for most offenses reported during school (theft, robbery, assault, destruction to property, etc.) that occurred on a school campus.
(b) SROs will place criminal charges against offenders when legally appropriate
On school property, school personnel have authority that police officers do not have. The SRO may assist school personnel in matters for which school personnel have primary responsibility.