Minneapolis School Board Votes on Future of School Resource Officer Program

August 08, 2017 10:47 PM

The Minneapolis School Board had it's say on the future of police officers on district campuses.

At the meeting Tuesday night, it was packed with both supporters and critics of the school resource officer program.  A public hearing took place ahead of Tuesday night's vote.

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Parents, students, staff and educators talked about their concerns of having uniformed officers in the hallways, and how it only makes the climate worse between police and students.

However, one staffer said they felt safer knowing an officer was nearby.

The school board cited data from the Hennepin County Attorney's office, which showed the number of students referred for a suspected crime dropped dramatically over 10 years from 919 in the school year 2005/2006 to 65 this past school year.  The office credited school resource officers, in part, for that decline.

The proposed three year contract between the school district and police department called for reducing the number of school resource officers from 16 to 14, which would save the district $130,000.  The deal also recommended that officers forego uniforms and wear khaki's and polo shirts.

Officers would also go through more social, cultural and youth development training as well.  There would also be specific protocols for when an officer can intervene in a situation.

"We want to create a climate and a culture where students and staff feel safe," Superintendent Ed Graff said.

Critics in the crowd felt that officers can seem intimidating to students, and instead of building community relations with teens, their presence makes things worse.

"The SRO program is a band-aid and we need to pull that band-aid off," School Board Member Kerry Jo Felder said.

Next week, the St. Paul School Board will vote on the same issue. 

Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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