By: Karlie Harris
That new face and presence you’ve seen walking Glenelg’s halls? No, it’s not actor Eric Dane who plays Mark Sloan on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
But like Sloan, a doctor on the show, it is someone who has his sights set on helping others.
Glenelg’s new Student Resources Officer (SRO) Brandon Lapp is determined to build a better bridge between the police department and students this year and for years to come.
Lapp comes to Glenelg as a 24-year veteran of the Howard County Police Department, 10 of which were spent working in canine patrol with a drug detection dog.
Since he was nine, Lapp said he has always dreamt of becoming a police officer. As a kid, he said he did not aspire to sit in a chair all day, everyday, doing one thing all the time; being an officer provided Lapp the opportunity to stay busy and serve members of the community.
And now that includes Glenelg.
“Glenelg’s staff is very nice and great to work with, and the students are very kind,” Lapp said. “So far it has been really great this year — my favorite school so far!”
Lapp said he looks forward to continuing to develop positive relationships with students. He said he believes students see him as easy going and laid back, and therefore someone who they can talk to and trust.
“I enjoy working with students and I believe I do it well,” Lapp said. “I’m very open-minded and always interested in the new ideas students come up with.”
One of those ideas is to keep building on and improving the SADD club (Students Against Destructive Decisions), overseen by former SRO Steve Willingham, a friend of Lapp’s (the two met by participating in summer camps designated to aspiring police officers).
“We want to continue to stress the number one priority that students understand the dangers of drinking and driving, or at least educate them and other youth about the dangers of drinking and driving,” Lapp said. “We hope to promote the relationship between the police department through the club, and build the connection with the Glenelg community.
It certainly helps that Lapp is already familiar with the school.
“Officer Lapp’s transition here was a breeze,” said principal Shawn Hastings-Hauf. “We were thrilled when he moved to Glenelg! He used to help us out when he was working full time at Marriotts Ridge. Students already got a glimpse of Lapp and have had interactions from time to time with him, as well as the teachers/staff. While our former SRO, Officer Willingham, was out in April, Lapp came to check on us and helped out immensely.”
Lapp is married with three sons, ages 16, 14, and 11. He lives in Carroll County and coaches Gamber Mustangs football, Central Carroll basketball and Wax Gonzo lacrosse. Lapp said he hopes his activity within the school and community creates an easier avenue for interaction and conversation with Glenelg students.
Lapp is a lifelong Marylander. He attended Springbrook High School in Montgomery County, took classes at Montgomery Community College, and picked up 40 credits from the Howard County police academy after moving to the area in March of 2000. He worked as an officer in various locations, including Montgomery County and Howard County. At 40, Lapp became an SRO and worked at Patuxent Valley Middle School, Reservoir High School, and Marriotts Ridge High School.
Like any SRO, Lapp brings a wealth of policing experience to Glenelg, and attributes who he is today to experiences that have shaped him in his past.
“In 2014, I was one of the first ones on the scene of the Columbia Mall shooting—five other officers and I,” Lapp said. “We found three dead bodies, some outside and inside, others who were injured running out of the store.”
Lapp and the five officers received a bronze star, the second highest award in the police branch for their dedication to citizens’ safety and heroism. Lapp said they made it their duty to “always make it home at night. We try our best not to become a statistic.”
Working as an SRO affords Lapp a better opportunity to do so.
“I plan to finish my time as SRO at Glenelg,” Lapp said. “It's safer here working at the school, even though there could always be an emergency event. The schedule is really good. There is nothing else I really have a desire for. The staff and administrators here are great to work with. It makes a big difference working at Glenelg when the staff and students have a positive attitude and enjoy coming to school.”