'Is it criminalizing student behavior?'

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I was asked by a reporter to speak to any concerns I might have about the School Resource Officers (SRO) and the use of body cameras. I was willing to respond as a concerned citizen but not to represent the NAACP as that organization had taken no position on the matter.

Once I stated that, I was told I might want to submit my response as a letter to the editor because without speaking for the organization my comments would not be included. What follows are my questions and concerns.

Speaking as an individual, I continue to discuss with the police department and the school board why the need for not just body cameras but the permanent assignment of SRO. The district has security officers, many of whom, I am told are former police officers. How are the duties differentiated?

Is there a real need to have these officers in the school or should they be functioning as patrol officers in the community?  Where is the data to support the need for this? Neither organization appears to have done an evaluation of the program over the more than two decades the program has been in the schools.

One overarching question for me concerns whether we are supporting discipline in the schools or criminalizing student behavior? I think tax payers need to know what the actual costs are for security and SRO prior to a final decision and then an answer to the question if both are needed. The school board has the ability to negotiate a new contract with the police department this year and it is my belief they should negotiate for no body cameras and fewer officers.

Dorothy Harrell

Beloit

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