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Wake County (N.C.) district decides to continue resource officer program

June 18, 2020
The board renews an agreement with local law enforcement agencies for one year, but says it will solicit extensive community feedback about the program before extending it further.

The Wake County (N.C.) school board has renewed an agreement with the county’s law enforcement agencies to continue the presence of resource officers in schools. The board also has approved contracts with Raleigh, Cary, Apex and Garner to continue having officers assigned to schools in those communities.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that as board members approved the agreement in the aftermath of national protests over police brutality toward minorities, they promised to take a harder look at how officers interact with students

Instead of a typical three-year renewal, the agreement with police agencies is for only one year. School leaders say that extensive community feedback will be collected before a new agreement is approved next year.

The call to remove police from schools has intensified nationally following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while being held down by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Several school systems across the nation have recently voted to end their school resource officer programs.

Every Wake County high school and nearly every middle school has a school resource officer on campus. The school district pays local law enforcement agencies to provide the officers, who undergo training before being assigned to work in schools.

Supporters of resource officers say they help make schools safer and build connections between students and law enforcement.

But critics say that school resource officers disproportionately target minority students and criminalize the school environment.

Local activists have tried for years to eliminate or reduce the number of officers in Wake schools. An online petition calling for the removal of officers from Wake schools has received more than 3,700 signatures since it was created two weeks ago.

School leaders said the board needed to decide this week on continuing the program because the existing agreement with police ended on June 30.

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