As the 2022-2023 school year came to a close, the Perkiomen Valley School District made the decision to recruit armed school police officers. After much internal discussion and planning, the district has put appropriate policies and administrative regulations regarding the hiring and expectations of armed officers in place.
In contrast to the security currently employed by the district, police officers have distinct experiences and are able to offer assistance when it comes to specific circumstances, especially when there is a chance that someone will be hurt. Additionally, they have a lot of experience in proactive planning for emergencies, incidents and situational awareness.
The district has established the qualifications needed for prospective employees and the training that they must complete upon being employed.
“We are moving through the process carefully to secure the strongest of candidates. The administration is not rushing the process,” Superintendent Dr. Barbara Russell said.
To begin the hiring process, the Human Resources Department advertised the open posts and stipulated that applicants must be qualified police officers with a minimum of five years of service. Then, candidates who met the requirements were screened by an administrative team. Next, the candidates who are recommended by the administrative team to move forward will be given the opportunity to interview with teachers, support staff, administrators, students, parents and community members. The feedback from these interviews will be considered by the administration in order to recommend which candidates should be employed to the Board of School Directors.
Once employed, the school police officers will undergo a variety of professional development before starting their assigned duties. According to Policy 805.2, the school police officers must successfully complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course. The school police officers will also be required to complete district training on the use of positive behavior, de-escalation tactics, and appropriate conduct with children with disabilities. During the course of their employment, the school police officers will also be required to partake in multiple professional development activities, including frequent check-ins with the Chief of Police.
The district will continue to work through its meticulously created process in order to employ the best possible police officers for PV.
“I am hoping the presence of school police officers helps our students to learn more about their role in the community and view them as trusted adults who desire to work with us to keep our schools safe,” Dr. Russel said.