Cop at high school nixed

BAR HARBOR — Bar Harbor Police Officer Tim Bland, who is assigned to Conners Emerson Elementary School as resource officer, will not be spending part of his time at Mount Desert Island High School on a regular basis.

School system superintendent Howard Colter informed the high school board of that decision Monday night.

Last month, high school Principal Matt Haney told the board that he and Colter had spoken with Police Chief Jim Willis about the possibility of having Bland spend part of his day at the high school, perhaps at lunchtime.

“The main purpose would be to continue to build a relationship where students view police officers … as another person who can help them when they need it and who cares about them and is willing to hold them accountable when they don’t do what they’re supposed to,” Haney said at the time.

But Melisa Rowland, chairman of the Conners Emerson school committee and a member of the high school board, expressed “grave concerns” about having a police officer at the school on a regular basis.

“Putting an officer in an elementary school is one thing,” she said. “But putting them in the high school … doesn’t jibe at all well with adolescent male development.”

Colter told the high school board Monday night that he and Haney had discussed the issue with Rowland and with Charlie Wray, chairman of the high school board, as well as with Conners Emerson principal Barb Neilly.

“Our feeling is to leave things just as they are,” Colter said. “The arrangement in Bar Harbor seems to be successful. Barb feels that it’s been a big addition to have the officer there. We feel we could unintentionally mess that up.”

He said he and the other school officials who discussed the matter questioned whether much would be gained by having an officer at the high school on a regular schedule.

He alluded to the fact the Bland occasionally has been called to the high school to deal with certain situations.

“We feel that he is more than welcome to visit the high school as he has in the past,” Colter said. “We feel that way about other police officers. We would welcome them to come in, have lunch, see the kids.”

And he said the invitation isn’t just open to police officers.

“We welcome the community and people of authority and responsibility in our community,” he said. “We think that’s a real advantage. But we don’t want to limit it in some structured way with one person who is the assigned resource officer.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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