BAR HARBOR — Students at Mount Desert Island High School will have a chance to weigh in on the idea of having a police officer assigned to the school as a school resource officer (SRO).
The high school board discussed that idea last week with Tim Bland, the Bar Harbor police officer who is in his third year as SRO at Conners-Emerson Elementary School. His presence provides an extra degree of security, but his primary role is as a counselor, confidant and friend. He is the only SRO in the MDI Regional School System.
“I think it’s fair to say the kids don’t see him as a cop,” said Matt McEachern, one of Bar Harbor’s representatives on the high school board. “They see him as a resource, somebody to go and talk to about a problem.
“I think the cop stigma was broken long ago. Having him at the school has been a great asset.”
Claire Sasner, another Bar Harbor member of the board, said, “I’ve seen the kids with Tim, and they do go to him as a resource. They do love him. I think it’s been a great thing for the school.”
Student council president Yina Sun said the council would be happy to organize a meeting at which students could talk with Officer Bland and express their opinions about having an SRO at the school.
“Absolutely, we will call on you to do that,” school board chairman Tom Burton told her. “Certainly, we would be soliciting feedback from students.”
Burton said federal money might be available to fund an SRO position. He cited a recent email from the Maine School Management Association to the state’s school superintendents that said the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) of the U.S. Department of Justice would give priority to grant applications for SROs.