New Bedford Is Wise to Keep School Resource Officers [OPINION]
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and I don't seem to agree on much these days, but we are solid on the need to continue the School Resource Officer program in the New Bedford public school system.
Mitchell tasked Superintendent of Schools Thomas Anderson with determining whether or not to keep the SRO program. Some wanted to kick the cops out of school, while others felt their presence was necessary. For 14 months, Anderson sought input from anyone and everyone with an opinion. He also contracted with the Boston-based Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy to review the district's disciplinary practices, among other things. He did a thorough job.
Some minority and immigrant groups pressured Anderson to get rid of the SROs, suggesting that their presence was not beneficial to minority and immigrant children. Anderson, an African American, said the decision was not an easy one.
"As I’ve said before, this is a very sensitive topic to me in my role as superintendent and personally," he said.
Anderson listened to all sides of the debate and reached what I believe is the best decision, keeping the SROs. The School Resource Officers are a positive force in our schools. They provide a safety net, serve as mentors, and establish trust between law enforcement and the school community. It's all good.
I look forward to hearing more from Superintendent Anderson in the coming weeks about what he says will be "upgrades" to the SRO program.
Keeping the police in the schools is a wise idea. No child should be afraid of having police officers in their school. Parents should teach their children to respect authority and not to fear the police. That could go a long way towards solving some of our nation's biggest problems.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.