In a previous post, we reproduced some of the chatter from NextDoor social media on Cops in Madison WI four public high schools — the issue that can never be settled, apparently. The thread is exploding with content running six to one or better in favor of keeping the police. Even more lopsided is the support for school resource officers from parents of students. Here is one of those, from Bonnie of Midvale Heights:
This is my daughter’s experience, in her words, at an MMSD High School (and why I care strongly about this):
I am a freshman at Memorial High School, and although I cannot speak for all experiences with SRO’s in our district, I thought I would share a few scenarios in which I have seen their involvement.
In October, graffiti was discovered in the bathroom at our high school. It included references to the Columbine shooting and other depicted images of gun violence. When later in the day pictures of this graffiti were shared on social media, people became afraid that what the school termed simply as “graffiti” may be more along the lines of a threat. The student was arrested on account of “a tentative disorderly conduct charge.” MMSD sent out an understated email. No added security in place. No increased police presence. No lockdown or additional precautions set in place. No news story. However, despite taking no further safety precautions, students were more at ease knowing there was an armed officer in the school, with extensive prior knowledge of the school and relationships with students and faculty should it have turned into more than “graffiti.”
That same day, one of my close friends was threatened with a picture of a gun. Teachers were informed, and the SRO was notified in the event that the situation escalated.
The following day, another one of my friends received texts from an unknown number that included gun violence threats. She went to the SRO at our school, and using the police they were able to trace the number. School counselors and psychologists were also used in order to mediate between the two students.
In November, two stolen cars were abandoned in the Jefferson parking lot. Although not all issues begin within the school, incidents often take place on school property. The SRO’s are needed to not only deal with problems within the school, but also to protect students from external threats.
In December there was a fight (not on school grounds) that resulted in additional police involvement at the school. Although the SRO and other faculty members are able to handle many situations, other police are very much needed. Removing the SRO’s from MMSD high schools would only increase the need for police presence, including those without prior experience with the school.