Pinellas Park High School School Resource Officer Harold Behar is moving to a new school, despite pleas from parents and students to extend his assignment.
Despite protests from parents and students, the Pinellas Park Police Department has decided not to extend current School Resource Officer Harold Behar’s assignment at Pinellas Park High School. Behar will rotate to a new assignment at the end of the school year.
According to Sgt. Brian Unmisig, spokesperson for the PPPD, this rotation is part of a department protocol that rotates officers after five years on one specialized assignment. In certain circumstances, these assignments can be extended for an extra year, and Behar has already has his SRO assignment extended one year.
“(The decision) goes back to our rotation policy in place,” Unmisig said. “To extend (Behar) again would have been against our normal procedures and policies.”
In “Keep Officer Behar,” a Facebook group created by his supporters, Behar broke the news that he won’t be returning to PPHS next year.
“This news has me disappointed, but I am a loyal employee to my agency and respect (Chief Dorene Thomas’) decision. I am asking all of you to do the same,” he wrote. “This minor setback will not stop me from achieving my goal. My plan is to take my knowledge and experience and move forward into another position. I assure all of you, this will not be the last you hear of me. The Marine Corps has taught me to be a leader and make positive changes that would benefit everyone. I transformed the school into a positive and safe learning environment for all of you.”
Behar began his career working for the New York City Police Department from 2000 to 2004. There he also took on the role of SRO. When he relocated to New Port Richey and took a job with the PPPD, he indicated that he’d like to continue his work as an SRO in Pinellas Park.
In 2008, he became SRO at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School.
“The moment I stepped foot in the door I knew my journey would be a challenging one,” Behar wrote in the Facebook group. “As the take-charge type [of] person, I jumped right in and set the tone. In doing so, I earned respect from students and staff. Once the respect was earned, things began to fall into place.”
The next year, he moved to the high school. While he focused on securing the safety of all students and faculty on campus, Behar also counseled students and spearheaded a variety of events, including the 9/11 memorial ceremony and driver’s safety courses.
“[These] past six years has been the best and most rewarding time a police officer would encounter,” Behar wrote.
Behar’s supporters have accepted Chief Thomas’ decision but are sad to see him go.”
“PPHS will never be the same without you,” wrote student Kaitlynn Burroughs. “I first met you at Morgan and knew right away how passionate you were for your job. You didn’t just work day to day; you made an effort to connect with everyone and actually show that someone does care about us.”
Elise Crepeau, whose daughter attends PPHS and who spearheaded the effort to keep Behar at the high school last fall, wrote in the group, “Harold, you are the best and only one for that position right now. The kids of PPHS will be the ones to suffer without your presence … Continue to do what you do and be the man that you are and you will succeed in any position. Much love and respect.”