CHS takes steps to improve student safety with safety focus group, implementation of body cameras for SROs

Pranav Jothirajah

Seven months ago, on May 25, a 13-year-old middle school student walked into Noblesville West Middle School with two handguns, shooting both a teacher and a student multiple times. Fortunately, they both survived, and a teacher stopped the student before he could harm others. Incidents like this are well known, and they occur all over the country, but that was the first time where it has been so close to home. CHS has also received its scare in violence—the school shooter threats that were received last February. School and student safety has always been a top priority at this school, but it seems even more prevalent now than ever.

Additionally, this year, the administration and Student Resource Officers (SROs) are planning on being more open, so that students can also voice their opinion on the safety at CHS. They are doing this by forming a student focus group on school safety, which will be comprised of eight students and a SROs. In these meetings, students will be able to voice their concerns on school safety and talk to the SROs who work at CHS.
Sergeant DJ Schoeff, the SRO responsible for forming this focus group, said, “The idea throughout the district right now is to try and involve conversations about school safety with a variety of stakeholders we have in the school: students, staff, parents, (SROs). Just getting everybody to have a conversation about school safety and to create the culture where everyone is involved in it helps people understand what we do behind the scenes for school safety.”
Over the last few weeks, the focus group has talked about topics including communication and mental health. Students who are a part of this committee can discuss pressing issues concerning school and student safety with SROs whom they may not have heard of otherwise. By communicating with SROs, relationships and trust will began to form between the two groups.
Shubhi Sinha, member of this student focus group and senior, said, “The meetings helped me build an initial relationship with (Sergeant) Schoeff. I had heard of him, and he had a very good reputation for students, but I never was able to have a conversation with him on a one-on-one basis, so I hope that it does help me build relationships with him and other SROs at the school (as well).”
Raphael Li

The police and CHS are discussing the implementation of body cameras for the Carmel Police Department. Next year, there will be 121 police officers on the force, and all of them will be equipped with body cameras.
Lieutenant Joe Bickel, who works for the Camel Police Department, said, “Body cameras are worn not just to protect the people, but to also protect the police officers. We will be able to know everything if anything goes wrong.”
However, the question becomes whether the cameras are necessary for SROs working at CHS.

Robbie Ge

Schoeff said, “Eventually we will have body cameras. I have no problem with body cameras. I know there are some people that get a little worried about what that looks like. Body cameras are important to show the truth behind what goes on (and) from my standpoint, not just to prove when we do right, but also to help us identify those who might be doing wrong on the law enforcement perspective and address it. We don’t want individuals doing something wrong. As it works inside the school, I think there is great value to it. It won’t be something that would be frequently publicized. Nothing is going to be published out of the school, but there will be great value in being able to review and find out how we can continually improve.”
Sinha, on the other hand, said she disagrees with Schoeff. She said, “I personally don’t think officers should be equipped with body cameras. There are other ways to prioritize school safety that are less intrusive and aggressive.”
Overall, Sinha said she believes the administration and school are going in the right direction in terms of student and school safety. She said, “Carmel Clay Schools has a good reputation for prioritizing student safety. They do a very good job of making sure that school is a safe place for us (students) to learn.”