Community members gather to debate SRO program in South Bend schools
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Parents and activists gathering together for a community action meeting today to discuss whether police officers should be present in schools. Today’s meeting was an opportunity for community members to provide input on the future of the school resource officer program and many say they just want to create a policy that’s inclusive for every student.
“SRO’s was created to build relationships between youth and law enforcement. We need changes but we need to go back to that premise," said Janet Evelyn, Special Ed Teacher.
The fight to remove school resource officers in South Bend schools has been a battle for the past 53 years, according to activists from Black Lives Matter.
While the officers have remained present, community members gathered Tuesday evening to discuss their feelings on whether the future means removing the program for good.
“The rhetorical claim that SRO’s are necessary to keep schools safe is powerful as rhetoric, but where’s the evidence to back it up," said Andrew Pierce, Facilitator.
Some agree that the program should remain with changes, others brought concerns about how the program has been linked to disproportionate discipline for kids of color.
“Normal if bad teenage behavior can be criminalized and can pull kids into the criminal justice system at a young age so that you know when they leave high school they already have a criminal record," said Pierce.
Both sides haven’t come to an agreement on how the program should move forward but they did agree they just want what’s best for the kids.
“Everyone is in agreement that we’re all here for the kids that’s why we’re here. We might not understand the way it works. We might not understand the way it looks, but we can’t do that without conversation," said Marsha Heck, Associate Professor of Secondary Education for IU.
Feedback from tonight’s event will be used to determine the future for the program which does not have a set date for its approval.