NEWBURYPORT – School Resource Officer Megan Tierney recently traveled abroad to shadow, learn from and discuss various aspects of police work with members of the Kent County Police Department in England.
The trip was funded by the Rotary Club Foundation International, and sponsored by the Wakefield Rotary Club. Four local school resource officers were selected for the trip.
Tierney has been a school resource officer for four years at Newburyport Public Schools, and she was joined on the trip by Sgt. Daniel Perenick of the Winchester Police Department, Detective Dawne Armistead of the Winthrop Police Department and Detective Paul Lucci of the North Reading Police Department.
The officers on the trip visited London and the county of Kent, England from May 10-26. In Kent, the officers toured the various departments within the Kent Police Department, including the sexual offender management unit, firearms division, juvenile justice coordinators and raptor team, who are charged with handling drug trafficking cases. They also spent time with the Kent County Cadet program, a group of youth in the area who aspire to work in law enforcement one day.
"This was an unparalleled experience," Tierney said in a press release. "It was incredible to be able to see another country's way of police work through the eyes of its officers, and we also had the opportunity to share our insights from our way of doing things as well."
After learning that school resource officer-like positions in Kent county have been eliminated due to budgetary restrictions, Tierney and her peers shared their experiences as school resource officers with members of the Kent Police.
"It was powerful to talk to the Kent officers we visited about the impact myself and the other American officers on the trip are able to have in schools, working with young people," Tierney said. "We get to know students as they grow up, and that allows us to instill a positive, friendly relationship with our residents right from the get-go. It's very unfortunate they were forced to cut those positions due to budgetary restrictions."
Tierney also gave a presentation to members of the Kent Police Department on the Domestic Violence High Risk Team approach. That team is a collaborative group of law enforcement, outreach workers and district attorney representatives who work to provide safety, support and resources to victim families of domestic violence.The approach was developed by the Greater Newburyport High Risk Domestic Violence Team and the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, and since it was implemented in the Newburyport area in 2002, there have been no fatalities related to domestic violence.
As a result of Tierney's presentation, the Kent Police Department is looking into implementing a similar approach.
"This was a great opportunity for Officer Tierney and the other Massachusetts SRO's that attended this trip," Newburyport City Marshal Murray said. "Rarely do we ever have a chance to witness another country's policing and exchange ideas. Thank you to the Wakefield Rotary Club for making this eye-opening trip possible."