Conversation continues about EROs in Madison schools

Published: Jul. 25, 2018 at 9:50 PM CDT
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An ad hoc committee assigned to draft a proposal about the future relationship between Education Resource Officers (ERO) and Madison Metropolitan Schools met Wednesday evening.

Committee and School Board member TJ Mertz said the committee was able to make significant progress on the proposal.

The committee is discussing implementing a police liaison program. It would offer police services at all Madison schools, not just the high schools. Currently, each MMSD high school has a MPD officer in the school.

Bennett Brazelton graduated from West High School. He said although he never had an issue with the ERO in his school, he thinks the liaison program is too vague right now.

"I think when they say liaison, like police-community liaison, that could mean a hundred different things," Brazelton said. "That could mean is the police officer spending 50% of their time in the schools? The school just has their phone number? Does that mean that their roots are altered? Its not specific. So, there is no real way to say what liaison is. But to me, if it means the police are spending time in schools, supervising and policing students, that is a problem."

Mertz said the committee is not yet finished with the proposal, but it is slated to present it and provide recommendations to the Board of Education mid-August.

According to a release from MMSD, "They will use their recommendations to inform future decision making along with the recommendations from our internal MMSD/MPD work group, which includes Joe Balles, our head of safety and security."

MMSD also has a contract with the Madison Police Department that expires after the '18-'19 school year. The release said, "...which ensures that EROs will continue their work in our schools next year and provides a full year for the City and MMSD to agree on any potential improvements to our partnership with police in support of school safety."

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval has expressed concern over the proposed liaison program, stating it isn't practical with their resources.

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