New Bedford residents are encouraged to participate in a discussion about the future of the School Resource Officer program. The program has been targeted for elimination by the anti-police movement. Some school districts, including Los Angeles, have already eliminated funding for the SRO program and have sent the police officers packing.

Some say the police don't belong in school. They believe that minority children have reason to fear the police and that placing police officers in public schools creates fear and anxiety. You may disagree with me, but I say rubbish. If children fear the police it is because they have been taught to do so. Children should trust and respect the police and seek them out when they are in trouble.

Where am I wrong here?

Superintendent Thomas Anderson, noting that police officers have been a part of the New Bedford Schools for years, stated, "This is an emotionally charged social issue for many in our community for me both personally and professionally. We are obligated to be transparent and objective in our thinking. We all have different realities and to eradicate racism and inequities on all levels we must have candid respectful dialogue.”

These are dangerous times. Schools are targeted by armed crazies looking to make a name for themselves by shooting up the place. Some public schools have issues with gangs. The police are needed to keep the students and staff safe. A police presence in our schools establishes trust and allows police to gather intelligence that could prevent violence.

If anything, the School Resource Officer program should be expanded so that every school has police protection every day, all school year long.

The School Department has a Zoom forum on the issue on Wednesday at 5 p.m. I hope you will tune in and listen to the debate.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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