TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Tempe Union High School District will begin planning for the ending of its school resource officer (SRO) programs at district schools by August 2022. The district's board passed a resolution late Wednesday night that will phase out agreements with Tempe and Phoenix Police Departments that provide for a full-time police officer at each of the school campuses in the district.
JUST IN: On a 3-2 vote, Tempe Union High School District board approves resolution to begin planning to phase out school resource officers on their campuses with a target date of Aug. 2022. #azfamily— David Caltabiano (@DavidCaltabiano) October 14, 2021
Detective Natalie Barela says the officers assigned to these schools provide more than campus security. “There’s so many incredible benefits of having an SRO,” she said. “It far exceeds an officer in a uniform.”
“They’re a trusted source, they’re someone to fist-bump and high five in the hall, and it’s just a level of connection that the SROs have with students,” said Barela.
Tempe UHSD is not the first school district in the Valley to remove their SRO program. Phoenix Union High School District did away with their SROs in July 2020 during the height of the "Black Lives Matter" protests. PXU’s superintendent admitted it was not just for budgetary reasons. It was also partly to fight racism after some grassroots groups expressed concern that officers on campus would racially profile students.
The Phoenix Union High School district has cut ties with the Phoenix Police Department and removed school resource officers (SROs) from campuses.
Barela offered a message for people who may feel that way within Tempe Union. “I’d say, take the opportunity and get to know that officer. Get to know who they are and get to know why they’re there,” she said.
The Tempe Officers Association sent us a statement from their president, Rob Ferraro:
"While the national conversation about school resource officers continues, the SROs we represent have worked hard to be an asset for the communities in which they work, building useful relationships throughout the school district and the education community. Regardless of the outcome of this vote by TUHSD's Governing Board, we will continue to advance those relationships in the community and its schools and do everything we can to keep campuses, educators, and students as safe as possible.”