By Stetson Miller

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — As calls for police reform echo across the country, Howard County is trying to figure out what the future of its school resource officer program looks like.

“The school to prison pipeline has sparked debate as whether the presence of school resource officers exasperates persistent concerns,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said.

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The county has 19 SROs that have been working in its middle and high schools since the program began in 1996. Some are calling for them to be eliminated now, but County Executive Ball is recommending changes to the program including removing SROs from middle schools, requiring them to wear body-worn cameras and transition their uniforms to polos and khakis to make them more approachable.

“I think this is a reasonable compromise as we continue to evaluate,” Ball said.

But Del. Reid Novotny said these changes are not right for the county’s public schools.

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“County Executive I think is still following what is a national narrative about police and police reform,” Novotny said.

He said SROs could help foster positive relations between police and young people and they do more good than bad for students.

“I think the SROs provide much more positive impact than they ever do negatively and the statistics really do prove that,” Novotny said.

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The decision to make the changes or eliminate the SRO program is ultimately up to the Howard County Board of Education. It will vote on them at its next meeting on April 29.

Stetson Miller