Next steps for MMSD after ending contracts with School Resource Officers

Madison school board must look at a replacement plan for SROs
MMSD has ended its contract with the Madison Police Department for school resource officers, the question remains for what will fill the safety gap.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:29 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The decision to remove School Resource Officers from Madison’s four public high schools still needs approval from the Madison Common Council. However, there is already a discussion about options for what will happen next, following the unanimous MMSD School Board decision Monday night.

NBC15 spoke with civil-rights attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick about his work to remove police from schools

He said he's been working on the issue statewide, for years.

“We don’t want to see any kind of increase in violence in our schools,” Spitzer-Resnick said. “We don’t want to see the replacement with a heightened number of calls to police to come into schools.”

Spitzer-Resnick said hiring community peace officers to handle issues within schools will benefit students of color. And educators can still call police to help during a dangerous situation.

“If we have a number of well-trained staff, you’ll see an increasing number of times where those situations can and will be deescalated,” Spitzer-Resnick said.

However, Jim Palmer, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) has his concerns.

“They’re going to be responding to situations where they will not have the same training and expertise that would be unique to a school resource officer working in that same school today,” Palmer said. “The officers who have been working in the schools know those facilities intimately well, they know the teachers and they have a relationship with the students. These are all things that going forward, Madison police officers responding to calls for service at the school simply won’t have.”

In their meeting Monday night, the Madison School Board said they would come up with a new plan before the new school year. An MMSD representative said someone from the board may be available next week.

The Madison Common Council will vote on the plan to end MMSD’s contract with the Madison Police Department, on July 14.

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