Judging by social media reaction
Madison school board president Gloria Reyes’ about face on cops in schools is roiling social media here on Madison’s southwest side. My informal count of comments on the NextDoor social media site shows support for school resource officers running about six to one. Some trenchant comments (last names redacted except for two well known MMSD people) and their neigborhoods:
Bonnie • Midvale Heights — Yes I do have a child in high school so this feels very real to me. I hear the stories from my daughter, receive all the emails and alerts from the school … and see with my own eyes the situations. I understand the fear that some African-American students in particular may have, especially in our current reality, but these SROs are trained for these realities and specifically for this school environment. My biggest fear is a school shooter (who history would predict would be a white male) and that is one huge reason I like an armed person on the campus. To protect and defend all students.
Robert Baudhuin • Nakoma — When I was Principal at Sherman Middle School 1999-2001, we had one of the first SRO’s ever in a MMSD middle school. … The year prior to my tenure at Sherman, there had been more than 100 calls for service to the MPD, 18 expulsion recommendations, and more than 1000 suspensions, so the community definitely saw a need. We also had two social workers, two guidance counselors, two learning coordinators, a school psychologist, and a security guard. ..
Police brutality is one thing, but what’s wrong with our communities is an even more important issue. We can easily rein in the police, but without equal opportunity, education, mobility, nutrition and safety, it won’t make a difference.
Aidan • Nakoma — I’m a current West student and I think this idea is absolutely stupid. Obviously police reform is needed at some of its most fundamental levels, but removing police from schools is not the way to make change. I know I’d feel extremely unsafe at school if we didn’t have one. Recently a kid brought a gun to West in his backpack and guess who was there to arrest him, the SRO.
Deb • Meadowood — Last night I talked to a retiring school teacher who has been teaching for 37 yrs in Madison. She is totally afraid of what will happen. She has had unruly students who have frightened the whole class and have had to be taken out of the classroom so they would not hurt anyone or destroy the classroom. She has been threatened by students and fights have broken out, only to have security break up these fights. Weapons have been found on persons and security have taken them away. Who will do this if the security guards are not there? Who will break up the fights in schools?
BTW: This is in an elementary school, not high school.
Robert & Peggy • Midvale Heights — Have a grandson at Memorial …and He likes having the officers there…!! I feel it would be a huge mistake to remove them. … SROs know the kids and the buildings. … Madison Police are excellent…most are highly educated and the training is ongoing. If SRO are removed then outside officers rushing to an emergency will be confronted by a confusing building and hundreds of panicked students and staff. Not good.
Paul du Vair • Arbor Hills — Police in our high schools are there to protect students and staff from outsiders AND FROM STUDENTS THEMSELVES. I taught at East High for 30+ years and it was our great principal, Milton McPike, who welcomed the police into our building. Excellent move. No one loved students more than Milt.
Context and nuance
Louis • Dudgeon Monroe — What happens when guns and knives appear?
Kristen • Meadowood — It would probably depend on the context. Is it being brandished and use as a threat or just being carried throughout the school, or is it found in a locker or backpack? Context is important, though obviously I think we would all prefer there not be any there at all, in any context.
Louis • Dudgeon Monroe — Might not be time to consider “context.”
We give the final word to Tom • Midvale Heights — As soon as the last teacher is assaulted by a student or group of students, and the last weapon enters a school in the hands of a student, then the SROs can be removed. Until then, I believe they are necessary.