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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Conyers, Georgia, sits in Rockdale County 23 miles east of Atlanta. The Conyers Police Department received $440,000 from the COPS Hiring Program (CHP) in 2017, which enabled the department to on-board four new officers. In the CHP application, applicants are asked to identify particular issues within community policing that hiring additional officers could solve. Conyers chose school-based policing as an area of concern.
On May 20, 1999, Heritage High School suffered a mass shooting when Anthony Solomon, a sophomore, opened fire with a .22-caliber rifle.1 It was the last day of school. Solomon wounded six classmates and appeared to begin to attempt suicide, but he was disarmed by Assistant Principle Cecil Brinkley.2 Other students identified a recent break-up as the potential impetus for the rampage.3 Such incidents are common precursors to acts of mass violence: A 2017 study by the National Police Foundation demonstrated that 94 percent of perpetrators of completed attacks had “experienced or witnessed some kind of life-changing events.”4 Solomon was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison, but following several commutations he was released on July 26, 2016, having served 17 years.
Prior to receiving the CHP funding, Conyers had only one school resource officer (SRO) at Rockdale County High School (RCHS)—as well as one at each of the other two high schools in the district—and the department pointed out that one officer was insufficient to address rising levels of drug activity and gang involvement at the school. After the department received the CHP funding, SRO Troy Quick was joined by SRO Charlene Smith. In addition to formal duties as an SRO, Quick is well known for supporting sports activities on campus. The school told the COPS Office monitoring team that “it is almost as common to see him out of uniform as in his uniform.” SRO Smith is involved in RCHS’s RARE Pearls mentoring program for high school girls. Both officers are credited with helping reduce overall assaults by 40 percent and thefts by 70 percent from 2016 to 2017.5 The school also reported that having both a male and a female officer critically expands the resource pool for students looking for aid.
“The old adage that two are better than one rings true,” the school reported, and it certainly seems to hold true in Conyers.
For more information:
A Comparison of Averted and Completed School Attacks
Beyond the Badge: Profile of a School Resource Officer
Using School COP: A Guide for School Administrators and Safety Personnel
1 “6 Injured in Georgia High School Shooting,” CNN.com, last modified May 20, 1999, http://www.cnn.com/US/9905/20/conyers.school.shooting.02/index.html.
2 “6 Injured” (see note 2).
3 John Cloud, “Just a Routine School Shooting,” CNN, last modified May 24, 1999, http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/time/1999/05/24/school.shooting.html.
4 Peter Langman and Frank Straub, A Comparison of Averted and Completed School Attacks from the Police Foundation Averted School Violence Database (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2019), 13, /ric/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-W0870.
5 Conyers Police Department, Successful Practices and Strategies 5, no. 2 (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2018), https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/CPOS/ss/Vol5No2Conyers.pdf
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