When Gloucester’s school officials were weighing a parent’s suggest to add security guards to local school buildings as an important public safety step, some insisted there was no such need, others suggested an armed officer might even intimidate students.
Just two weeks unto the new school year, however, the actions of Gloucester Police Sgt. Michael Gossom have shown the revived school resource officer program is not only working effectively, but that Gossom has gained the confidence of students and school staff in precisely the manner he should.
According to a Gloucester police report, Gossom last week arrested a 16-year-old male GHS student for domestic assault and battery after he put a hand on each of his ex-girlfriend’s shoulders and “shoved” her to the ground inside the school.
The report indicated that Gossom acted after a group of students had approached a guidance counselor about the young couple’s relationship, and the counselor spoke to Gossom. According to the report, Gossom had planned to facilitate a conference involving the girl, a parent, and a school guidance counselor after hearing in the past week that the young couple’s relationship “may be getting tumultuous.” But when approached by the counselor and learning of the incident, Gossom spoke with the girl involved, then made an arrest when she confirmed the alleged assault and said she feared the teenage boy’s “explosive anger.”
This type of action may not have been what police or school officials might have anticipated when Gossom took up his post. But the truth is, his actions answered the concerns raised by the other students and guidance counselor, and should send some powerful messages to all:
That this type of alleged abuse or bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated; that the resource officer is someone that students and staff can approach when they feel threatened, or see someone else in the same position; and that, when they bring these concerns forward, there is a police officer on their side trained and equipped to handle the situation.
That indeed is a positive step for school safety and toward a safe, comfortable learning environment. And that’s what this project is all about.