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Columbia County supes vote to leave SROs in the schools

Jul 12, 2020 6:30 am
Nora Mishanec is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media the Columbia County Board of Supervisors has voted by an overwhelming majority to keep police officers in the county schools. At the same time, the board's Health and Human Services committee has agreed to temporarily halt in-person mental health counseling for students at the county's six school districts. All supervisors present at the July 8 virtual meeting voted in favor of maintaining the cops in schools program, with the exception of Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann. The county put in roughly $189,000 toward the school resource officer program last year, while the districts cumulatively contributed $240,000. Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett spoke about the program at the board’s Public Safety Committee meeting, June 16. Deputies who serve as school resource officers become part of the school community and are “more than just cops,” the sheriff said. “The kids actually flock to the deputies and go to them for help and mentorship,” Bartlett said during the meeting. Funding the program is not an issue, Bartlett said, noting that the officers are there to protect, not police, the school community. “You can’t really put a price on safety,” he said. According to the Justice Policy Institute, a national justice reform organization, the presence of law enforcement in schools has been a controversial issue for decades. The Institute reports that rates of youth violence have been on the decline independent of law enforcement intervention. But the presence of police in the schools often brings unintended consequences for students, in the form of higher rates of suspensions, expulsions and arrests for non-criminal, youthful behavior. The consequences are especially significant for students of color. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.
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