Police patrol high school Principal asks help after several incidents there since August

Four citations issued

Six officers will be on campus until the end of the week

February 04, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Uniformed police officers roamed the sprawling campus of Glen Burnie High School yesterday, issuing citations and booting out youths who didn't belong there as a warning to students to improve behavior.

County officials said they could not recall another case when a group of officers had been brought to a high school to supervise students.

Principal David Hill said yesterday that he asked for police help because of a string of assaults, automobile break-ins and robberies that have beset the school and its 2,058 students since September. School officials called police more than 100 times in the first semester this school year.

"In some way, some of the students have fallen short of our expectations," Hill said.

Police said the officers issued four citations yesterday, three for possession of tobacco by a minor and one for possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Hill said his decision to ask for police help was unrelated to an assault in August in which a student was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after being kicked in the head. The parents of the youth, who withdrew from the school, have sued the school system for $4 million.

Other Anne Arundel high schools have police liaisons, and this week's action is likely to turn into something similar, Hill said.

Hill sent a note to parents Friday, saying officers would be on the campus this week and warning arrests might be made.

The six officers, some in plainclothes, will be at the school at least through this week, said Officer Dwayne K. Johnson, who developed the idea of putting officers in schools. After that, the number will be reduced, he said.

Students who do nothing wrong "have nothing to worry about," Johnson said.

Hill said he did not "want the kids to think it is a police state."

The students thought otherwise. Some made pig-snorting noises at the armed officers and muttered curses. Others said they would try to ignore the police. But that was difficult, as officers questioned students in bathrooms that reeked of smoke.

Junior Joshua Lee Hoffman was among those who got a pink citation. He said he had not gone to the bathroom to smoke but had to answer to a policeman.

"The cop, he was patting me down," Joshua said. "And then he said, 'I am going to ask you one time if you got cigarettes.' And I thought, I know you felt them, I might as well say so."

The officer gave Joshua a citation for illegal possession of cigarettes by a minor. "Now I got to go to court and all," he said.

Some students worried about damage to the school's image.

"It makes us look bad," said senior Charmeda Berkley, a peer counselor.

Glen Burnie led county schools in expulsions last semester, with 52 students expelled from August to January. Thirty-seven expulsions occurred all of the last school year, according to school system reports.

The school, six brick buildings spread over 39 acres, is a supervisory nightmare, said Peter Nicolini, director for the area.

He suggested adding more administrators. "I think we, as a school system, need to look at staffing Glen Burnie High School not on numbers but on need," Nicolini said.

Teachers were pleased with Hill's calling in the police but sad that it had come to that.

"Something had to be done," said Terry Bogle, a physical education teacher for 29 years. " I hate to see it reach this point."

Parents were upset about the police presence even as they praised it.

"I don't like the idea of them being there, but if it helps protect my daughter or daughters ," said Bob Bounelis, chairman of the Citizen Advisory Committee, his voice trailing off.

Rita Hemphill, mother of a 10th-grader, said "I was shocked at first. I thought, 'How safe is the environment my child is in?' " But the more she thought about it, she said, the less she worried.

"My child is there to study. If it makes it a safer place for her, then I am for it," she said.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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