Tucson to vote on keeping SROs on school campuses

Tucson to vote on keeping SROs on school campuses

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson City Council will vote next week on an Intergovernmental Agreement with TUSD on whether to continue the School Resource Officer program which is presently in six schools.

A $2.2 million state grant funding the program has expired which means if the program is to continue, it must be paid for by either TUSD or the city of Tucson.

However, under the IGA, the two entities will split the costs down the middle.

TUSD, at it's October 24, 2017 meeting, voted unanimously to pay for the officers which may cost it about $300,000.

This is item number 7, from the agenda which names the schools that will get the resource officers:

Intergovernmental Agreement between City of Tucson Police Department and Tucson Unified School District for Six Resource Officers for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, with Authorization for the Superintendent to Execute the Agreement (Cholla Magnet, Pueblo Magnet, Palo Verde Magnet, Catalina, Santa Rita High Schools and Booth-Fickett Math-Science K-8 Magnet School) APPROVED. Moved: Hicks; Seconded: Stegeman.
Passed Unanimously (Voice Vote). Dr. Trujillo, Jeff Coleman and TPD Sgt.
Brian Cocoran presented information and responded to Board inquiries.
Board members commenting and/or asking questions were Michael Hicks, Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster, Mark Stegeman and Rachael Sedgwick.
Rob Ross provided legal advice.

The next step is for the Tucson city council to pass this resolution agreeing to the terms. 

Tucson says since officers are already on staff and deployed, it will not need extra funds.

The extension is for one year and likely will be evaluated before any future years are added.

Tucson ended it's SRO program in 2007 when it could not justify the cost. That's one of the issues surrounding SRO programs, not only here, but across the country. There's no empirical data to show if they reduce crime or make campuses safer.

It's thought they do on many levels but there's little data to support it.

Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik is in agreement stating "they're an important component to campus security and serve a role in building rapport with the students."

School resource officers agree too.

"We have the ability to reach upwards of 3,000 kids at Tucson High that we would never have contact with unless it was a criminal matter," said Brian Corcoran, who commands the officers. "They start to develop these relationships and their bonds which breaks down the barriers of the uniform."

Sgt Corcoran says the officers will use many infractions as teaching moments rather than arrests.

High fives on campus are not uncommon and students talk to the officers between classes and at lunch which builds trust.

"Trust for SROs is huge," he said.

Students will often come to the officers with information about others not getting along or about a fight which may be brewing. The officers will talk to the students and iron out the issues before they become more serious.

The officers themselves go far beyond just being a presence on campus.

"In addition to their law enforcement duties, they also teach classes, they mentor students," he said. "They have a physical presence that gives assurance that the school is safe."

Many parents and students agree.

"I think it's a good idea," said Pueblo High School student Jade Flores. ""It makes you feel more protected."

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