FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — There will not be Fresno police student resource officers at Fresno middle schools for at least the 2021-2022 school year.
As thousands of Fresno middle school students get ready to return to the classrooms, Fresno student resource officers, known as SROs, will not be back on junior high campuses.
Fresno Police Deputy Chief Burke Farrah said in August of 2020, Fresno Unified School District did not renew contracts of 15 SROs assigned to middle schools.
This last year Fresno Unified did a survey on how students, staff and teachers felt about SROs.
“A majority of the staff, parents and students were opposed to the removal of SROs from the Fresno Unified School District,” said survey analyst Andrew Jones.
About 74% of parents and 83% of staff members support keeping police on Fresno Unified campuses, and close to 76% of parents and 80% of staff members agree that having officers on campus makes schools safer.
Over at Central Unified, the district’s middle school SRO was relocated to Central Unified’s new high school. Even though some Central Unified trustees show interest in adding an additional officer, Farrah says the department’s hiring crisis paired with the recent crime spike makes it impossible.
“I can’t afford to take cops away from patrol beats,” said Farrah. “That may sound harsh, that may seem cold, but those are the facts and that is the best way to present them to you, is straight up.”
Fresno Barrios Unidos Executive Director Ashley Rojas wants districts to get rid of SROs and instead invest in more counselors.
“When we talk about safety and prioritizing the emotional mental health needs of our students, this doesn’t mean we are opposed fundamentally to the existence of law enforcement,” Rojas says. “These two things are not at odds with one another, what we are really talking about is putting the right services in front of the right people.”
Police say if Fresno Unified decides to bring back SROs, it would take at least two years to replace the positions.
SROs will continue to be at the district’s high schools.