Schools across the nation are reinstating their resource officers after many were let go over the past few years due to budget cuts from the “defund the police” movement.
As crime continues to rise, many officials are regretting those defunding decisions and changing course.
“I think what you’re seeing and the reaction from these school districts is exactly what we’re seeing in almost every major city in this country: Everybody’s having buyer’s remorse for defunding the police,” Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Joe Gamaldi explained. “We had 16 American cities last year have their highest murder rates in recorded history, and now people are quickly backtracking and realizing that police officers provide safety in our communities.”
In Montgomery County, Maryland, schools had to learn the hard way after ditching their police officers in favor of “community engagement officers.”
Within months, nearly 1,700 9-1-1 calls were made. There were 102 sexual assaults, 87 assaults, 76 controlled substance incidents, 56 weapons incidents, 28 property crimes and four robberies committed between February and August on the school campuses.
The district has since reversed its decision and plans to bring SROs back into the fold.
In Alexandria, Virginia, schools faced a similar problem. After the Alexandria City Council voted to remove officers from schools, many began to complain of increased violence and fighting on campuses.
“Our students are sending us warning shots, literally warning shots,” Alexandria City High School principal Peter Balas said during one meeting. “Please reconsider this. My staff, my students. We’re not OK,” the principal pleaded.
Following the meeting, the city council voted to reinstate SROs through the end of the year.
The situation became so severe that lawmakers in Virginia have even proposed legislation mandating the presence of officers at schools.
“It’s just for parents to know that their children are safe,” Delegate Karen Greenhalgh said of the bill.
The Pomona Unified School Board in California also voted to defund school police last year, but quickly backtracked on its decision months later after a shooting broke out near Pomona High School and injured a 12-year-old.
Fraternal Order of Police National President Patrick Yoes said SROs are critical for providing safety and security within schools, as well as “tearing down walls, building relationships with kids,” and providing “law-related education.”
Rudy Perez, vice president of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said that the job is “truly about being part of that ecosystem that you can address the safety issues, concerns that parents have, that teachers have.”