School resource officers to be assigned in Bellevue, Omaha public schools

SROs will address threats of violence and mental health among students
Bellevue Police Department is implementing a new role to keep violence out of schools.
Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 4:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bellevue Police are creating a new position to help keep schools safe.

They’re adding a school resource officer, who will focus on threats of violence.

Lt. Howard Banks with BPD has spent 17 years on duty, involved with schools and students.

“I still have kids that come back to my house on vacation,” Banks said. “They still reach out to me. We still Facetime.”

And Banks says the need for strong relationships between students and a mentor, like a school resource officer, is greater than ever.

“There has been a rise of violence in schools,” Banks said.

So, Banks is spearheading a pilot program that will dedicate one SRO to identifying and reducing threats of violence at Bellevue and Omaha Public Schools.

This officer will have more training in mental health and will spend more time with kids at risk than current SROs who cover general safety-related topics.

“We’re working with kids, students, and their families,” Banks said. “If the kid exhibits either violent tendencies or something of that nature or maybe the kid is just on the wrong path.”

The details are still being worked out, like which schools the officer will focus on and how they will spend their time.

“The biggest thing with this is building relationships with the kids,” Banks said. “They’re going to be interacting with these students at the schools, probably at their house and any other locations where we need to.”

Jacob Caniglia, who just graduated from high school, says it’s a good idea.

“I know that it would make everyone else feel better,” Caniglia said. “Not just the school, but all the parents, especially.”

BPD is currently interviewing for this position. The plan is for the new SRO to begin sometime during the 2023-24 school year.