Town doubles number of resource officers in schools

Town doubles number of resource officers in schools

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence Police Department has added two officers to its School Resource Officer Unit in the 2018-2019 school year, providing an additional layer of safety and community policing in local schools, say its leaders.

The plan, according to Chief David Tikoian, is to assign one SRO each to North Providence High School, Ricci Middle School, Birchwood Middle School, and a rotating SRO for all elementary schools.

“With the recent violence that has occurred in schools across our nation, I feel to take a proactive approach and redirect resources to school safety in the form of additional school resource officers is the right thing to do for our students, educators and the community,” said Tikoian. “The addition of these officers assigned to our Community Policing Unit as SROs could not have happened without the support of the mayor and Town Council as well as the cooperation of the School Committee.”

According to the North Providence Police Department’s annual report for 2017, current school resource officer Kevin Guindon has served at NPHS, while SRO Donti Rosciti has served at the two middle schools. Under the existing program, both officers assist at the various town elementary schools as needed.

“The mission of the SRO program is the reduction and prevention of school-related violence and crimes committed by juveniles and young adults,” states the annual report. “The program aims to create and maintain a safe, secure and orderly learning environment for students, teachers and staff.”

Rosciti was previously a top detective in Pawtucket, where he received numerous citations for cracking tough cases before retiring from that department and heading to North Providence.

In June, Tikoian requested two additional police officers in the 2018-2019 budget submission. The mayor and council approved the positions earmarked as SROs. Tikoian had sent out an email asking officers interested in becoming an SRO to submit a letter of interest and resume.

During the week of June 17, the four officers who submitted letters of interest were interviewed by a four-member panel, which included Lt. Michel Scaramuzzo, officer in charge of the department’s planning and training unit, Lt. Michael Tavarozzi, officer in charge of the the community policing unit, Ricci Middle School Principal TJ Mellen, and Special Education Director Christopher Jones.

“By all accounts and the feedback I received  from interview panel members, all four officers interviewed extremely well and each possessed impressive credentials for the position,” said Tikoian. “Our agency is fortunate to have officers among its ranks that have such extensive backgrounds, experiences, education and skill sets.”

Five days after the interviews, the panel recommended that Officer William Vickers, a six-year veteran, and Officer Jason Burlingame, a four-year veteran, be named SROs, joining Rosciti and Guindon.

Burlingame has more than 22 years of experience in law enforcement. After retiring from the Coventry Police Department in 2014, where he served as SRO for a decade, he was sworn in as a North Providence officer in 2014. He successfully completed the National Association of School Resource Officers basic SRO course in 2003.

Vickers is currently working on a bachelor’s degree from Johnson & Wales University. He completed the National Association of School Resource Officers basic SRO course, a week-long program, last month.

Vickers and Burlingame begin their roles as SROs on Aug. 27, the day teachers return to school for orientation.