[Baltimore Sun] Arrested students almost never face criminal prosecution, Carroll commander says

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There were 47 student arrests made in Carroll County’s public schools during the 2022-23 school year, but a law enforcement official says it is unlikely any of them resulted in criminal prosecution.

When asked during an interview to estimate how many student arrests led to criminal prosecutions, Phillip Lawrence, commander of school resource officers with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said the answer is “probably zero.”

When a student arrest is made, the case is referred to the Department of Juvenile Services for intake. DJS determines whether to drop the case, impose consequences, or to refer the case to the State’s Attorney’s Office for criminal charges.

“A lot of it gets resolved at intake. Community service, drop the case, that sort of stuff,” Michael Stewart, special counsel with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, said during an interview.

DJS was unable to say how many student arrests they sent to the state’s attorney for criminal prosecution in Carroll County due to data tracking limitations, stating in an email that the department’s system “does not cleanly capture intake complaints that are school referrals,” according to Eric Solomon, director of communications for the department.

DJS also resolves cases through informal adjustments, which can include referrals to other agencies, completion of community service, counseling, substance abuse treatment, restitution, and other types of nonjudicial intervention, Stewart said.

School resource officers made 43 of the 47 student arrests in Carroll County during the 2022-23 school year. The remaining four were made by local police officers, according to the Maryland State Department of Education’s student arrest data report. Forty-one of the student arrests were made in high schools and six were made in middle schools, according to the report.

Lawrence said there are about 13 school resource officers in Carroll County public schools — each high school has a dedicated officer “to provide security for the schools, students and staff,” and handle all calls for service that occur during a school day, according to the sheriff’s office website. Middle schools and elementary schools share from a pool of the remaining officers.

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