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In Praise of SROS

PFC Goodley and Miller maintain order at middle schools.

PFC Marvin Goodley knows that he has only two years to help students at Carl Sandburg Middle School. As the security resource officer (SRO) for the middle school, he only sees the students in seventh and eighth grade.

“You have to make it count,” he said.

That's why he and PFC Robert Miller were honored at last month’s School Board meeting.

Dan Storck, School Board member, said, “I have met both Officer Marvin Goodley at Carl Sandburg Middle School and Officer Robert Miller at Whitman Middle School several times, at their schools and in disciplinary hearings. These SROs are very approachable and professional with a strong commitment to our students and our community. They love their jobs because they spend most of their time talking with students and working with them on a positive basis. As a School Board member, I know that their primary role in our schools is to keep students and staff safe, but the mentoring they provide students is where I believe that we see our most important benefit. Their nominations as Student Resource Officer of the Year were recognition for a job done well for a long time.”

“SROs are great partners at each of the schools they serve,” said Dr. Jack Dale, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. “They are part of the team of people working with today’s youth to ensure they will be very productive, tax paying citizens in the future.”

Capt. Mike Kline, commander Mount Vernon Station, is very pleased with the acknowledgments and said, “Both officers are clearly role models for the youth who attend the schools. The fact that so many kids seek them out for guidance and to talk about their problems is a tribute to them as both professionals and as community leaders.”

GOODLEY AND MILLER requested the position of SRO because they love working with children.

This is Miller’s sixth year at Walt Whitman; Goodley has been an SRO for two years — first at Bryant and now at Carl Sandburg. They both feel that in addition to maintaining order that they also serve as counselors to students who often don’t have another source to talk to.

“I’ll see a student looking down, and say ‘everything OK?’” Miller said. Invariably, the student starts talking and Miller is there to listen.

Goodley likes the fact that students get to see police officers in another light.

“The county having police officers in the schools gives kids a chance to interact with police officers as persons,” Goodley said. “They also get an insight into the police department.”

Miller said that he has a good relationship with the students and has gotten to know the students who live in the area.

“They know if they do something wrong, they will get in trouble,” Miller said. “But I give kids respect.”

Goodley has also gotten to know the students, and said, “To be effective, you have to be a good listener — and be honest. I tell them what’s going to happen to them, but that it’s not the end of the world.”

MILLER AND GOODLEY mostly deal with fights, graffiti and general monitoring of the school. Rarely do the officers have to make an arrest. Most incidents are addressed within the school. Students are released to their parents and the officers file a petition for juvenile intake. The student and parents then receive a summons to appear in court.

Neither of them has dealt with any major incidents. The worse incident that Miller saw wasn’t even related to the students. It was after hours and two men were chasing another man in a car. Somehow they ended up running down the hallway at Whitman.

“I put my hand on my gun and told them to stop,” Miller said. “All three of them got down. Four to five male teachers came out to help and then I got on the radio and called for backup. I told the men, ‘next time someone’s chasing you, don’t come into a school.'”

The two officers continually receive training and Miller has seen a big change in security plans since 9-11.

For Goodley, his biggest challenge is the size of the school.

“We have 1,200 students and 1,200 problems. Some are major, some are minor. The important thing is that you have to deal with the problems right away before they have a chance to fester and become big problems. ”

Both officers have a good relationship with the teachers and administrators. Miller works with the teachers to monitor the hallways between classes.

“I have a good working relationship with the teachers and administrators,” Goodley said. “We know our boundaries, where we need to go and what we need to do.”

“I just like my job — working with kids,” Miller said.

Ditto that for Goodley, who said, “I look forward to coming to work everyday and working with the kids.”