Working together with our school districts is an important step to increasing school safety and to enhance our community outreach programs and initiatives. Over the past three years, the Berwyn Police Department has worked hard to establish the position of a School Resource Officer (SRO) while facing difficult economic challenges. After working very diligently with our city administration and school districts 98 and 100, we were able to put this position in place for the start of the new 2013/2014 school year. Interacting with and educating our young students was the goal of our newly adopted SRO program.
The Berwyn Police Department assigned police officer Jennifer Stillo to work with our three middle schools (Lincoln, Freedom, and Heritage) in order to create a setting that is safe and secure for our students. While placing a strong emphasis on prevention and early-intervention programs and activities, Jennifer will bring a wealth of knowledge, an enthusiastic approach and bilingual skills to the position. SRO Stillo will collaborate with each of the schools on a daily basis throughout the school year in the development and maintenance of positive communications and building personal relationships.
The primary focus of the SRO will be as an educational resource to the school community of students, teachers, school administrators and most importantly, parents. Our SRO will be available to teach and discuss current issues relating to drug abuse and awareness, internet and social networking safety, anti-bullying and cyber-bullying awareness, personal self-improvement and goal setting.
As law enforcement officers, as parents, as student administrators and as a community we must be concerned and aware of the social and criminal aspect associated with modern advancements in computer technology, electronic communications and social media. SRO Stillo is currently implementing an exclusive program that specifically focuses on social media education and the inherent dangers involved with electronic communications.
Technology now allows individuals to set up personal pages, to post pictures and to make statements which can be extremely harmful. SRO Stillo has attended a number of training programs that concentrate on the impact and understanding of the new wave of problems linked to cyber-bullying and sexting by students. By building relationships and trust where students will feel comfortable to approach an SRO or a police officer for advice or help is critical to teaching these children how to deal with daily pressures.
By implementing new outreach programs, we will continually develop positive relationships between the schools, students, the community, and your Berwyn Police Department.
Jim Ritz is chief of police for the city of Berwyn