By WGGB Staff
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — There has been a growing concern about what’s been going on in schools with allegations of bullying and victims of crime often being of high school age, but in Springfield, there are uniformed officers in the schools to handle those concerns.
Springfield Police Department Officer William Andrew was doing the investigative legwork on a recent homicide on Dwight Street. However, he was doing the work while patrolling Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School, located at 1300 State St. He and his partner, Officer Annmarie Condon, have collected sensitive information about the murder, but it’s only part of their job.
There are 21 school resource officers in the Springfield Police Department, and they’ve made more than 300 arrests during the current school year, according to police. The officers are the face of the department for the city’s students, and they said they’re the officers the students know and can go to with problems. Their position in the city’s schools has placed them on the front line in a war against youth violence.
During a recent day at Putnam, they went through a random search of a classroom. Students placed their bags on a desk while school officials conducted the search. The officers remained on hand to ensure there were no problems if weapons or illegal items were to be found.
On the same day, the officers questioned people around the school who looked out of place to make sure they weren’t a threat to safety.
They said the job involves multitasking, as they sometimes act as guidance counselors and help students with problems both in and out of school. The presence of the officers in the school develops a sense of trust that becomes invaluable, especially when police are looking to solve crimes such as the recent murder of a teenager, Rafael Montanez.