Letter to the editor: Retired police officer appreciates Mukilteo School District's support of School Resource Officers
Last updated 7/8/2020 at 12:26pm
I would like to comment on a couple of recent items in the Beacon. As a resident of Mukilteo and community volunteer, these letters and articles reinforced my choice of city and school district 22 years ago and I am proud to call Mukilteo my home.
I was pleased to see School Board President Michael Simmons (backed up by Councilmember Sarah Kneller) state that the Mukilteo School District will not follow some local school districts in banning School Resource Officers. I am a retired police officer and now run a criminal justice program at a college as well as write policing textbooks.
Research indicates that School Resource Officers (SRO) have positive impacts on the youth, the school and the community they serve throughout the country. SROs facilitate improved police – community relations and have provided mentoring type relationships for some students. Anecdotally, and very visibly, there have been stories in the last couple of weeks for 2020 graduates across the nation honoring and thanking their SROs for their support as the students graduated. Removing SROs from schools is a knee jerk, uninformed reaction and absolutely wrong.
The letter by Chris Perisho was also very articulate and stated many of my thoughts and concerns over the last few weeks in a clear manner and hopefully will help residents understand police officers and what they go through more accurately than what we are reading in the headlines. As cliché as it sounds, these men and women go into law enforcement to help their community and to give back. This is as true with my students over the last 19 years as it was when I entered law enforcement. I want to make it clear, I don’t know anyone in law enforcement, who doesn’t think the murder of George Floyd was horrific and that all officers involved should be held accountable.
To demonize 700,000 police officers and to blame them for institutional problems is wrong on so many levels. They work under very difficult conditions and face the challenges that we as a society have failed to address and have left to the officers to deal with, including mental illness, homelessness, and addiction, without the needed resources to actually accomplish anything.
Communities do need to look at addressing some of these issues in a different manner and allow officers to handle their job of protecting and serving their communities. We need to applaud officers for being there and “running in when others are running out.” As I, and anyone who has served in law enforcement can tell you, when people yell for help and call 911 at 3 a.m. they need immediate assistance and are overwhelmingly grateful and thankful to the officers for responding in their time of need. We should stop demonizing police officers and putting targets on their back and recognize the honorable and valuable service they provide and thank them for it.
Capt. Linda Forst (ret) Ed.D
Director of Criminal Justice
Shoreline Community College