A mounting effort to decrease the role of school resource officers (SRO) in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is gaining traction as some on the City Council have joined community activists in questioning the role of security officers in the schools.
The discussion comes as schools nationwide are considering alternatives to school resource officers or eliminating the position entirely. Alexandria’s SROs made the headlines in 2018 when one accidentally shot his gun inside George Washington Middle School.
City Councilman Canek Aguirre suggested that the position be changed from a full-time job at the school for a few of the most busy times, like arrival and dismissal, but aren’t positioned throughout the day in the school
The issue was raised at a public hearing on the budget earlier this week by representatives from Arlandria-based Tenants and Workers United. Youth organizers at the event said SROs are an intrusive presence that make some students feel unsafe.
The position was created in 1997 at George Washington Middle School with the opposite goal. According to the city:
All officers selected to the SRU attend a 40-hour School Resource Officer School. This training is provided by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services- Center for School Safety. The SROs also receive additional specialized training from the ACPS and other training sources on a wide range of subjects: dealing with kids who have emotional & educational issues, school policy, laws of search, seizure & arrest on school grounds, how to prevent and deal with an active school shooting incident and many other related topics.
The program has expanded over the years and today there is one SRO sergeant and five SROs.