The Maine State Police has asked local schools if they want troopers to visit campuses, but the Camden-Rockport school board wants parental opinion before saying yes or no.

The Maine School Administrative District 28 School Board discussed the idea on Feb. 10 when members gathered for a regularly scheduled meeting in the lobby of the Camden-Rockport Elementary School.

“I hate to be a curmudgeon, but I have serious concerns,” said board member Geoffrey Parker of Rockport.

He wondered if there would be personal contact between the students and the visiting troopers, stating that he would like to see personal contact and a relationship rather than an anonymous presence.

“I like that they might come in and have lunch with the kids,” said school board Chairman Tori Manzi of Camden.

The letter circulated to all Maine superintendents said that the Maine State Police, in conjunction with the Maine Department of Education, is implementing a safe schools initiative to get troopers more involved with schools.

Under the program, “troopers can come to your schools to do reports, have lunch with the students or just provide a visible presence,” wrote Col. Patrick Fleming of the Maine State Police, and Education Commissioner Susan Gendron. “It is this presence that will cause someone who is considering harming the students or faculty to think twice about any attempt.”

The program would not be a school resource program, the letter said. The troopers would not be on any schedule and would arrive at schools at random times, staying for no set period of time.

“The visit may consist only of a trooper sitting in a marked vehicle in the parking lot using your wireless Internet access, if you choose to allow it, to do reports,” the letter said.

The Maine State Police is also offering the services of troopers to help administrators establish school safety plans, and provide support during a safety exercise, or actual event.

“Participation is not mandatory,” the letter said. “This is a program we are initiating as another way to do our part to protect Maine’s future. It is a stark reality, as we found out last year during the incident at Stockton Springs, that these types of incidents do not just happen in other states but they can happen here and it is the resolve of the Maine State Police and the Department of Education that it does not happen again.”

Founded in 1925, the Maine State Police is the state’s largest police agency with 341 personnel. Troopers patrol the state and investigate homicides, child abuse and other major crimes. There are several specialty units within the state police to cover underwater recovery, evidence response, crisis negotiations and incident management. The troopers’ core values are integrity, fairness, compassion and excellence.

Lt. Gerard Madden, commander of Maine State Police Troop D in Thomaston, said the program has been successful in the Midcoast, with troopers focusing on the rural schools in communities that do not have local police departments.

“Unfortunately, times have changed and police have to be more proactive to prevent or mitigate school violence,” he said.

The increased visibility of police helps deter potential violence, he said. Troopers have been visiting schools for the past year, helping monitor evacuation drills, visiting classrooms, and talking to students and administrators.

Some school board members endorsed the idea of troopers visiting both Camden-Rockport elementary and middle schools.

“I don’t think it’s particularly harmful,” said board member Marcia Dietrich of Rockport.

Camden-Rockport Middle School Principal Maria Libby, however, expressed skepticism about the students’ reactions to the sight of troopers on campus.

“Every kid is going to wonder who is getting taken away today,” she said.

Other comments suggested that the presence of troopers could lay positive groundwork, and a motion was made to cooperate with the state police.

But Parker suggested asking parents for their opinions, and presenting the proposal in the school newsletters.

“If parents are concerned, they will certainly let you know,” he said.

“I think it is best to get parental feedback on this,” said board member Betsy Saltonstall of Rockport.

The board agreed to field parental opinion and revisit the Maine State Police offer at a later meeting.