The Albany Police Department (APD) has been a Greater Albany Public Schools (GAPS) community partner for many years. In 2019, GAPS entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement with APD to bring back the School Resource Officer (SRO) program to the district. The agreement states GAPS and APD will split the cost to have School Resource Officers spread across the district. Although SROs were present before COVID, the program was paused during the pandemic as students were not in class.
Why have a School Resource Officer?
The purpose of a SRO is to provide education, intervention, and enforcement in the schools with a primary focus on creating relationships and trust with students and staff. They may provide education in classrooms such as social studies, health, or career related events. They also serve an important function in the event of an emergency.
SROs are not involved in low-level discipline events, but instead are engaged in issues where high-level events occur and the school would need support from a police officer. High-level events include serious assault, sexual assault, possession of a dangerous weapon, and sale of unlawful substances.
SROs are trained and specialize in interactions with school-age children and are more likely to have pre-existing relationships with students and staff than an outside officer. The SRO will serve as a familiar face in the school community.
Meet Officer Curtis Bell!
Prior to becoming the GAPS School Resource Officer, Officer Curtis Bell was involved in the community as a coach and teacher, working with local non-profit organizations in the Albany area. After graduating from Corban University with a Business Communication degree, Officer Bell chose a path in law enforcement.
He began training at the Albany Police Department to learn skills such as defense tactics, de-escalation communication, and critical incident stress management. Over the past 15 years, Officer Bell has filled the role as a Patrol Officer, Street Crimes Detective, SWAT Negotiator, SWAT Operator, and School Resource Officer for the City of Albany.
“My priority as a School Resource Officer is prevention through communication. I believe my role as a School Resource Officer is to be involved in students lives as they navigate all that the K-12 educational process entails. Students are learning academically, but also socially, which is where I can make an impact,” said Officer Bell. “Many behaviors can either grow into a criminal issue or if engaged in as an adult could be criminal. I can work with teachers, administrators, and parents helping students understand the impact of their behavior. I believe in prevention versus reaction, which can be accomplished through these conversations. “
Since November 2021 when Officer Bell started as the GAPS SRO, he has had the opportunity to help schools with student and parent behavior issues, conducted student investigations in our middle and high schools, and led education presentations in classrooms.
“My favorite part of being involved with GAPS is it greatly increases my knowledge of the community I serve. There is a tendency, in any career, to become inundated and even overwhelmed with the concerns specific to the career,” said Officer Bell. “Working with GAPS staff and students provides an opportunity to understand successes and struggles in Albany that are not connected to the Albany Police Department.”
Officer Curtis Bell
School Resource Officer
Albany Police Chief