Montgomery County, Maryland, is the latest to push forward with a proposal to end the school resource officer program, which would remove police officers from school buildings.
The SRO program has come under increasing scrutiny as communities rethink the presence of police in schools. This follows the racial justice protests that took place last summer in response to several police killings of Black people.
“Police officers should not be walking down the hallways of schools, especially now when students are coming back into the schools,” said Montgomery County Council member Nancy Navarro, who represents, District 4, in an interview with WTOP on Saturday.
Navarro and the principal sponsors of the measure that would end the SRO program — At-Large Council members Will Jawando and Hans Reimer — point to data that show school resource officers disproportionately arrest Black and Hispanic students compared to white students.
Navarro is proposing an alternative plan to the SRO program, which would station specially trained police officers in communities, not school buildings.
“It creates a cluster model, a team model, that would be assigned geographically,” Navarro said. “So in case there’s ever some kind of an emergency or a situation, this cluster model would be geographically accessible.”
She said the officers would receive additional training and schools would be given clear definitions of serious offenses inside schools for which police could be summoned.
The council member said that her proposal is in response to requests by parents and school staff. While de-emphasizing the role of law enforcement in schools, Navarro’s plan would also bolster mental health and youth development resources.
“My amendment is hopefully an attempt to bring all sides together,” Navarro said.
The council is expected to move forward in the weeks ahead with plans to overhaul its approach to policing and public schools.