N.Baltimore police officer bridges gap with students
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Saturday, 01 December 2012 07:28
NORTH BALTIMORE - Breaching the gap between law enforcement and youth is the goal of School Resource Officer Mandy Slane.
|Mandy Slane, a Special Resource Officer for the North Baltimore School District, looks over computer work with North Baltimore sigh school students Lexi De Los Reyes (left) and Lacey Hall (right). (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Slane, an officer with the North Baltimore Police Department, this year has returned as SRO for North Baltimore Schools.
"I want them to feel comfortable coming to law enforcement," she said. "It's so important to have that trust."
And Slane has earned it.
She's been on the police department nine years, and served as SRO in 2004, but was cut from the position when funds ran out.
Now her salary is being shared by the village and the school district.
"She's doing a fantastic job," said police Chief Allan Baer. "She's giving 100 percent, she's mentoring students consistently, and works with administrators with at-risk youth."
He added, "She's just throwing herself into it."
The students seem to adore her, Baer continued. "They call her our officer."
Slane works 24 hours each week at the middle/high school and at Powell Elementary, and the rest of the time on the police force.
According to Principal Robert Falkenstein, Slane's roll at the new school is to answer questions students have, help enforce attendance deadlines, and help with traffic flow.
Slane is a North Baltimore resident, and the students have known her for years.
"This isn't her first rodeo," Falkenstein said about Slane serving as SRO.
"The North Baltimore Police Department and the schools have a superior relationship. We communicate very well and we have for several years," he said.
Keeping that information flowing is one of the reasons both sides decided to bring an SRO back into the schools, he continued. "And we knew we would have positive results."
He called Slane "a phenomenal resource for us in the district."
Superintendent Marlene North agreed.
"I think she's done an excellent job establishing rapport with the students," North stated. Whether a student "needs a gentle hand or a sterner approach," Slane can handle both.
"She has a real passion for students," North said.
Even when she wasn't the district's SRO, Slane spent time with the students, she added.
Currently, Slane said she's concentrating on the anti-bullying prevention program and mentoring students, "some of which are having some personal issues." She helps them make goals for themselves each week, and meets with individual students weekly.
Asked whether bullying was a problem in the school district, she responded, "Bullying is a problem everywhere."
Her typical day, from earlier this week, had her start at the high school, then assist a family enrolling at Powell, then visit a student's home because he was absent from school. She then returned to the high school to meet with Falkenstein to see if any pending issues needed her attention.
She's also starting planning for a mock crash scheduled in the spring prior to prom.
"It's an excellent program for the child to see a poor decision can lead to tragedy," she stated.
The two-day program will have the crash the first day, then the second day she'll bring in Baer and Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson. She'll also have Smith-Crates Funeral Home, from there in the village, bring in a casket.
Through it all, she hopes to build a rapport with students.
"I want them to come to me and help them work through a problem or situation. That's very important to me," she said.