Alexandria School Board considers adding school resource officers permanently

An advisory group urged the Alexandria School Board to keep school resource officers in public schools Thursday evening. 

The School Law Enforcement Partnership, made up of community members, police officers, students and teachers, presented recommendations to the board. 

FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick says currently, five SROs cover two high schools and two middle schools. 

The City of Alexandria stopped funding the SRO program after Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund the police.

The group has met to discuss the future of the program and says SROs alone won't solve safety concerns - but they belong in the mix. In a statement of recommendations, the group said, "Removing SROs would send a message to many families and community members that ACPS does not take seriously the violence that has occurred at regular intervals in the last year."

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The Partnership has several recommendations for tweaks to the program including adding professional development, deescalation training, and performance assessment for the officers in this role.

The panel also would like schools to report when SROs have employed deescalation techniques and the outcomes. The group also wants to collect more data on "perceptions and reality of safety at ACPS"

These are recommendations but ultimately funding for the officers comes from Alexandria's City Council.

Not everyone is in favor of the plan. Several people at Thursday’s board meeting held up signs that said "care not cops".

"We want to increase the safety of our schools and our community in the long term and that takes more work than the knee-jerk bandaid response of throwing armed officers into the mix and calling it safety," said Elisabeth Stanley, an Alexandria resident.
School board member, Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi said the district should be proactive instead of reactive.

"I applaud SLEP for thinking about recommendations like restorative practices, deescalation, and looking into studying minority arrest rates," Elnoubi said.

The agreement to return SROs to Alexandria's public schools expires in June.