Thursday, May 02, 2019

Baltimore County School Resource Officer Makes Good Use of Street Law Curriculum

Officer Danielle Moore is a school resource officer at Overlea High School in Baltimore County, MD. She believes strongly that police officers can and should play an integral role in supporting young people and improving relationships and building trust between law enforcement and teens.

Officer Moore has served the Baltimore area as a police officer for the past 12 years, initially for the Baltimore City Police Department and now for Baltimore County. During her six years working for Baltimore City, Officer Moore volunteered for a community-based program called Outward Bound, working with teenagers to help them build trust in law enforcement. Moore says, “I realized how much they hated police officers. I also realized that the teenagers in the program needed someone that they could relate to and who cared about them. Many of them did not have that at home.” She decided to use her “contagious” personality to be a police officer whom teenagers could relate to and trust.

Upon transferring to Baltimore County, Officer Moore searched for opportunities to work directly with teens. While applying for school resource officer (SRO) positions, she volunteered her time off-the-clock at local high schools to gain school-related experience. “I [wanted] to get a real feel for what it was like to be a school resource officer.”

As part of the interview process at Overlea High School, Officer Moore completed a one-week on-the-job trial period.

One day, an incident arose: A student was going through a crisis in the hallway and Officer Moore was called to calm the situation. Moore immediately realized that the student was having a meltdown. “I went into mommy mode, I grabbed him like a parent does and helped to lower him down to the floor until he cried about a break-up with his girlfriend. He needed to speak with a coach that could help him get through the situation. We sat on the floor together until he calmed down. I was able to defuse the situation and keep everyone safe by approaching the student with care and concern.” The student thanked her for keeping him from getting suspended and for being understanding. This experience reinforced Moore’s decision to serve in a role that allowed her to support young people.

In May 2018, Officer Moore was one of 65 Baltimore County police officers that took part in a training workshop on Street Law’s Police & Teens curriculum. After the training, Moore decided to implement the curriculum at Overlea High School, telling all the teachers at the school about it. Despite never having taught a class of any kind before, Moore said,

“I could not have been more prepared. The curriculum gives you the guidance needed to engage the students and prod them for answers. It gives you everything that you need. Having that curriculum has helped me and my partner [fellow Officer Brian Rawleigh] build positive relationships in the classroom. The school administrators also love the concept.”

Since then, Moore and Rawleigh have taught 19 classes using the Police & Teens curriculum, exceeding their classroom teaching mandate, and continue to be in demand by teachers.

Among the Street Law lessons that get a lot of attention is one on dating and sexual assault. Moore relates,

“We taught this lesson…as a two-part session. I supplemented the lesson by showing “The Hunting Ground,” a movie about rape and sexual harassment on college campuses. It’s such a powerful lesson. The principal was able to observe one of the sessions. She was blown away and believes that the lesson should be mandated for all students. We gave [students] time at the end of the lesson to open up about any issues they were comfortable talking about or [to] come to us in private.”

Officer Moore believes that this work is her calling, and is thankful that she was introduced to the Police & Teens program. She says,

“The curriculum has really helped me to build positive relationships…. People may assume that Overlea is a bad school but there are so many great students and great things happening there. Thank you for providing us with good teaching materials; without it, I don’t know what I would have been talking about in the classroom. It makes it so much easier and gave me the confidence that I needed to get in the classroom to teach.”

Learn more about Street Law's Police & Teens Program.