MONROE COUNTY, IN – Following a school board vote earlier in May, resource officers posted within Monroe County Community Schools will no longer be allowed to carry a firearm.
Reportedly the rationale from some within the school board to enact this measure is because officers carrying guns “signify” that students “have something to be afraid of.”
“We strongly discourage school districts from disarming SROs”
Monroe County school board votes to disarm school resource officers- banning them from carrying a firearm on school property.
Critics say the move could make those schools less safe.https://t.co/RqTqLBj9bB
— Jesse Wells (@JesseWellsNews) May 19, 2021
During the school board meeting on the evening of May 18th, the board had voted to change the policy regarding school resource officers carrying firearms on school property.
While Monroe County Community Schools will still employ school resource officers, the new policy removes their permission to carry firearms while on school property.
Apparently, this measure came to fruition based upon a general consensus that it’s important to make students feel welcome when they come into school, with school board member April Hennessey stating the following:
“For many people, guns signify that we have something to be afraid of. If we say that schools are safe, then we have to lean into that.”
Apparently the school board likes the illusion of safety, specifically April Hennessey saying “guns signify that we have something to be afraid of”, rather than the (sometimes) disconcerting appearance that comes with *actual* safety.
— Greg Hoyt (@GregHoytLET) May 22, 2021
Prior to the vote coming to its conclusion during the evening of May 18th, the school board did read one letter that reportedly came from a nurse that criticized the then-proposed policy change. An excerpt from the letter stated the following:
“I feel it’s absurd you have decided to take such drastic actions without consulting with those officers.”
As it turns out, the nurse that wrote that letter is not alone in their thought that disarming school resource officers is a bit drastic.
Chase Lyday, who is with the Indiana SRO Association, is among the crowd that believes having properly trained school resource officers that have access to a firearm makes schools safer:
“Disarming school resource officers prevents them from doing the full weight of responsibility they’ve been asked to do in the schools. It doesn’t align with best practice.”
“School resource officers should be carefully selected and trained to do a job and properly equipped to do that job.”
Local news outlet FOX 59 wound up reaching out to several school districts around central Indiana to see if those others districts were prohibiting school resource officers from carrying weapons.
The news outlet couldn’t find any other schools districts enacting such mandates, but instead received the following responses from districts contacted:
Hamilton Southeastern: “Our SROs are sworn officers and are under Fishers Police Department. They carry all the necessary resources and tools as any law enforcement officer would.”
Carmel Clay: “SROs in Carmel Clay Schools are full time Carmel Police Departments and fully trained and equipped as Carmel Police Officers.”
Lawrence Township: “SROs in the MSD of Lawrence Township are all off-duty first responders. Their classification (police, fire, etc.) determines if they are permitted to carry a firearm.”
Lyday noted that he too is unaware of any other school district in Indiana that is disarmed their school resource officers:
“We are unaware of any other school district in Indiana that has enacted this policy. We would strongly discourage school districts from disarming SROs.”
Reportedly one school board member did vote against the change with respect to disarming school resource officers, urging the school board to delay the decision until a new superintendent takes over in July of this year.
However, that request failed to pass.
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
Back in April, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report regarding school resource officers being temporarily removed from Chicago schools.
Here’s that previous report.
CHICAGO, IL– According to reports, school officers are temporarily being removed from Chicago public high schools. The district chief of security stated that with reduced daily in-person attendance, full-time school resource officers are not needed at this time.
Chicago Public Schools closed for a year.
Just partially reopened.
So CPS says schools don’t need cops.
When schools reopen in the fall,
(welllll, IF schools reopen)
will cops return?#SeeHowThisWorks #schools #police #cops #Chicago #Saturday https://t.co/d7zdiAlXjz
— Beverly A. Pekala (@PekalaLaw) April 24, 2021
The announcement comes as my students have advocated for police-free schools. Officials reiterated that the temporary removal does not apply to the fall semester. In an email to families, chief of security Jadine Chou wrote:
“With less than two months remaining in the school year and reduced daily in-person attendance, we feel that the presence of full-time SROs is not necessary at this time.”
“Please be assured that the safety of your children remains our top priority and we are confident that your school has the necessary staff in place to safely support the limited number of students who have returned to learn in person.”
Chou stated that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would keep working with the Chicago Police Department to ensure school buildings receive attention from police officers in the neighborhood, especially during high traffic times like dismissal.
CPS spokesman Michael Passman confirmed that officers have not been back in schools the past week. District officials said that no money would be paid to CPD for days when cops were not in schools during remote learning.
Passman stated that CPS would be paying for sergeants who patrol areas around all CPS schools, as outline in the CPD agreement. Officers are still reportedly assigned to 55 schools, which is the majority.
Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday they plan to reopen schools and offer full time in-person classroom instruction for students in the fall for the first time since the COVID pandemic closed doors in 2020. https://t.co/2tLfObSyrS
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) April 22, 2021
The Local School Councils (LSC) for those schools voted to keep officers ahead of this school year after officials declined to remove police from all schools and passed the decisions to each community.
CPS partnered with five community groups and recently unveiled a set of recommendations for schools to create plans that would make students feel safe and comfortable without police. LSCs are expected to vote again this summer on whether or not to keep their officers.
However, Chou made it clear that the district itself would not decide to remove cops for all schools.
“While schools will continue to have the option to participate in the SRO program next school year, we are taking a more holistic approach to school safety that is informed by a significant community engagement effort.”
In Hamilton County, Tennessee, schools are facing a school resource officer shortage as the board of education looks to fill more vacancies. Tucker McClendon, District 8 Board of Education member said be believes more needs to be done to ensure student safety while at school.
“We are way behind Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis, and even Murfreesboro in providing SROs and school security officers to our school buildings. I think all four of those are at 100% coverage.”
McClendon added that with tragic events that have happened recently in schools across the country, there was even more of a sense of urgency for him. He said:
“It was something that was always in the back of my mind. Going through high school and whatnot. So, I think it provides peace of mind for out students, for our students’ parents, and for our administrators.”
The SRO role in the Hamilton County School system is in place to help out with discipline issues, protect students, staff, and the building, but also to foster community relations.
“When we’re trying to make police officers and sheriff’s deputies a part of our community. It starts in our schools.”
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.