Three of New Bedford’s elementary schools opened last week, but the other schools, including New Bedford High School, are opening today. There was no “opening day” last year due to the pandemic. Here we are, hoping for a return to normal for the 2021-2022 school year.
Students and staff are returning equipped with masks and social distancing techniques to protect them from COVID-19, but they will have little protection against the growing threat of violence at school. The first line of defense will be the School Resource Officers whom some continue to fight to eliminate from our schools. These ORS will be a welcome sight for many left behind Wednesday’s shooting at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which left one student dead.
There has been a lot of political discussion about the merits of the School Resource Officer program in the New Bedford Public School System. Superintendent Thomas Anderson has decided to keep the OARs with some as yet unexplained modifications to the program.
Opponents of the School Resource Officer program say police officers in schools create fear for minority and immigrant children. They say these students are often unfairly targeted by police for arrest and other disciplinary action.
Advocates for SROs have argued that their presence is positive in schools, that students and the police develop relationships that help gather intelligence that can prevent violence in schools. Officers can identify struggling students and intervene when intervention is needed to save that student.
School Resource Officers serve as a deterrent to those who might think of wreaking havoc on our otherwise defenseless schools.
Violent crime is on the rise across the country. At the same time, police services are shrinking at an alarming rate. Parking police officers in our schools makes sense for many reasons.
Those who oppose school resource officers in the New Bedford school system should work with Superintendent Anderson to make the program more effective rather than eliminating it.
Barry Richard is the host of the Barry Richard Show at 1420 WBSM New Bedford. It can be heard on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
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