FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno Unified School District has approved a proposal to phase in student resource officers onto all of the district’s middle school campuses.
During a board meeting on Wednesday night, the trustees voted to add officers to five middle schools at the start of the school year in August.
To kick off the plan, officers will be added to the campuses of Kings Canyon, Gaston, Tenaya, Terronez, and Fort Miller middle schools.
After winter break, there will be five more officers added to different school campuses in the district.
During the public comment section of the meeting, dozens of parents, students, and community members shared their concerns about the proposal, asking the board to vote against it.
“This would make Brown, Black, and minority students more unsafe,” said one of the speakers during public comments.
However, the vote to approve the plan was nearly unanimous, with only one trustee voting no after an hours-long discussion.
With the proposal approved, student resource officers will now investigate reports of drug sales, claims of sexual assault, credible social media threats, and all other serious crimes on campus.
“I have two perspectives. I have the teacher perspective where I have seen things happen on campuses, but then I have that Black kid parent perspective, where I worry about my kid,” said trustee Keisha Thomas.
In addition, officers will be responsible for stopping large fights and intervening if there is a student armed with a gun or knife at school.
While on campus, officers will also focus on having positive interactions with the students.
“What you’re going to see is this time next year, you’re gonna see how many positive contacts and what those contacts actually mean,” said Fresno Police Deputy Chief Michael Reid.
After the beginning of the school year, more resource officers will be added on an ongoing basis, depending on staffing levels at the Fresno Police Department.
The district aims to have officers added to all of its middle schools by the start of the school year in 2023.
The Fresno Police Department says the district will pay for 95% of the contract, and the rest will be covered by the City of Fresno’s general fund.