By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Mass General Law, Chapter 71, provides that the chief of police shall assign a school resource officer (SRO) to serve the community’s schools. For several years, Detective Louis Turieu served as a School Resource Officer across the city of Marlborough, but Chief David Giorgi recently felt that it was time to increase the program.
“The Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform outlined the function of School Resource Officers (SROs), and we only had Det. Turieu. I was in a nearby community and learned that they had several SROs , so I felt it was time to change something and increase our presence in the schools,” explained Giorgi.
“I spoke to Mayor [Arthur] Vigeant and he was totally on board with the idea,” he continued.
Giorgi’s plan was to offer to place more officers in the schools on a full-time basis, with the school budget covering the salary for the ten months of the school year.
“The concept also had to be approved by the City Council, and again was met with unanimous approval, with councilors [Edward] Clancy and [Donald] Landers leading the way,” said Giorgi. Both the Superintendent of Marlborough Public Schools, Michael Bergeron, and the Assabet Valley Regional Technical Superintendent/Director Ernest Houle embraced the idea, fitting the officers into the budget as quickly as they could.
The commonwealth provided guidelines for choosing the officers, indicating that the candidates should possess the personality and character necessary to work with both children and educators in a school environment. Giorgi noted that all seven officers who applied for the positions were excellent candidates. Taking a page from the way school districts hire teachers, the candidates were asked to make presentations as opposed to just a question and answer interview. Although the selection was still difficult, Giorgi is very happy with the way the officers have adapted to their roles.
Officer Ryan Braswell was assigned to the Charles W. Whitcomb School and has also been the liaison to the elementary schools in the city, since September of 2018. Turieu has continued to serve the high school. Officer Scott King was assigned to the technical high school in March of 2019.
Braswell can usually be seen in the parking lot each morning, greeting staff and students as they arrive each day.
“I am involved with ALICE [active shooter civilian response training] in the fifth grade right now, I walk the hallways, and sometimes get waved in to a classroom by a teacher to get involved in a lesson. I am trying to get to know the students, and I want to start offering some seminars on various topics. This position is about building relationships and school security, and I am trying to cover all the bases,” Braswell said.
King agrees, noting, “I am hoping that by reaching kids at this age, we get them before they’ve had the opportunity to make big mistakes, so we can teach them to learn from their mistakes instead of repeating them. There is too much recidivism.
“These kids are getting to know me, to figure out that cops aren’t the bad guys. It was tough leaving my patrol, but I am developing a rapport with so many of [the kids]. I told the new freshmen that I am part of their class, that we’ll go through the next four years together.”