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School system, sheriff’s office fortify partnership

La Plata, MD - Superintendent Kimberly Hill and Sheriff Troy Berry renewed their commitment to the long-standing partnership between Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

The superintendent and sheriff signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) April 17 that outlines expectations for special law enforcement services and programs to schools. Berry reiterated his commitment to the School Resource Officer (SRO) program that supplies one full-time SRO for each of the county’s seven high schools and eight middle schools.

The goals of the SRO program are not only to provide safety for students and staff, but also to build relationships with students and school system staff to help reduce criminal offenses and incidents of school violence. In addition to their daily work inside the school, SROs also teach Truth and Consequences classes at middle and high schools and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, starting in elementary school.

“This MOU outlines our investment in our schools. We are committed to the safety and well-being of each and every student, staff member and employee Charles County Public Schools. We are always evaluating the SRO program and thinking about ways to enhance the service these officers provide day in and day out,” Berry said.

Five years ago, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice visited Charles County to research how Charles County’s successful SRO program works. DOJ officials called the Charles County a role model for success and said the CCPS program is how the program should work nationwide.

“The officers assigned to our schools have a passion for children and they are building trust and relationships with our students and their communities. It is these types of relationships that help make our schools safe for teaching and learning,” Hill said.

The partnership between CCPS and CCSO goes beyond the SRO program. At North Point High School, CCSO provides a full-time instructor for the Criminal Justice Program classes. CCSO and CCPS also cooperate in handling incidents involving students and staff, training and drills, recreational youth programs, coverage of special events, school visits, safe driving initiatives and information sharing.

“Charles County Public Schools has a longstanding collaborative relationship with the Sheriff’s Office. I appreciate Sheriff Berry and his team’s daily support of our programs, schools, students and staff,” Hill said.

“We believe in a balanced approach that increases security at the schools while also fostering positive police-student relationships and providing outreach programs that encourage good decision making,” Berry said.

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