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Local City Council Discusses School Resource Officers

Education, State

A Dallas police officer on a school campus. | Photo by Juan Figueroa via The Dallas Morning News

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In light of recent mass shootings, the Fort Worth City Council discussed how many school resource officers (SROs) are needed to ensure the safety and security of students and staff. While middle and high schools have SROs, elementary schools do not.

During a city council work session Tuesday, June 7, senior police officials provided an overview of the current number of SROs and described their training, NBC DFW reported.

The Fort Worth Independent School District has the most school resource officers: 64 work for the Fort Worth Police Department, and 44 hold positions within the FWISD.

Joseph Sparrow, an assistant chief at FWPD, said there are two officers at most high schools, but elementary schools are not staffed with any.

Councilmember Chris Nettles questioned the absence of school resource officers in elementary schools.

Sparrow answered, “It’s not cost-effective,” and explained he was not aware of any large security organization that covers primary schools.

Furthermore, he added, “We recently did a price projection of how much it would cost to cover all Fort Worth schools, and it was like $80 million.”

Nettles argued that the City must find a means to station officers at local schools, particularly in the lower grades.

“When it comes to protecting lives, we cannot let budget or money be a barrier.” He admitted, “I don’t know how we work that or fix that, or budget that in.”

Still, Nettles stressed: “We are at a state now in life where we can make a decision for a path forward. I will say — we need to consider working with the school districts and our budget to make sure we can start staffing [SROs] at the elementary schools.”

More than 200 additional police officers are needed to protect Fort Worth elementary schools, according to police estimates. The city council must decide whether the expense would be justified.

According to Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes, “No group of people inside our community is more vulnerable, more innocent, and in greater need of safety than our children or babies.”

“It’s not just about numbers. We’re talking about lives. We’re talking about students,” Noakes explained.

“And we’re going to do everything we possibly can in the city of Fort Worth to make sure what has happened in other cities doesn’t happen,” the chief added, referring to the recent tragedy in which a gunman targeted an Uvalde elementary school.

SROs are now present during summer school sessions, and current SROs will undergo annual training in August.

“Our SROs are some of the best-trained police officers on the force,” Assistant Chief Sparrow said. “They go through extra training to identify students that may be in crisis or something like that.”

According to Sparrow’s description, the program covers trauma and triage, active shooters, and clearing schools in the event of an incident.

“The SROs serve as liaisons between the police and schools,” Sparrow explained, adding sometimes they may even serve as mentors for pupils.

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