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Edmonds School District cuts resource officers in favor of preventative approach

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The Edmonds School District recently ended its school resource officer contracts with the Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mountlake Terrace police departments. What is the plan going forward, and why was the decision made?

Greg Schwab is the assistant superintendent for the Edmonds School District. He joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss.

“The first thing to know is that in the event that an unthinkable incident happens in one of our schools, the response that we’re going to get from law enforcement is going to be quite robust,” Schwab said. “I think we have all seen examples in other schools where these events have happened, and we’re going to receive support from every available police officer, even outside of our local jurisdictions.”

While Schwab acknowledges the response might be a tad slower considering there’s no officer on campus, the district is hoping to reinstate a different, similar program.

“We’re also working with our local jurisdictions to reimplement a program that we had in place back in the mid-2000s when we had to reduce school resource officers for budgetary reasons,” he said. “It’s called the liaison officer model, and essentially what we do is work with our local partners to assign a duty officer that’s on patrol who would be responsible for having the school be part of their beat, so to speak.”

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“In those instances when a school had a 911 call for any variety of reasons, if that officer was available, that officer would be the one to respond to the school,” he added. “One of the reasons we think this is a good model is because one of the benefits of having a school resource officer was somebody that knows how schools operate. So we’re working with our local departments to replace the SRO with a liaison officer so that we can maintain a little bit of that relationship with our law enforcement partners.”

Does he believe that not having someone on campus might potentially compromise the safety of the students?

“I think there’s certainly a lower level of service using a liaison officer model,” Schwab said. “I wouldn’t try to tell you that it was commensurate with having a school resource officer. But this is what we have to work with right now, and we’re going to do everything we can to put those measures in place so that we have a measure of response.”

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The district is exploring more preventative approaches as well.

“A police officer by itself is not does not make a school safe, there are other things we need to be doing and making sure that we have appropriate resources and support for our students,” Schwab said. “Because the resource officer is a reactionary model, as opposed to a preventative model, I think we need to get better at preventing these kinds of issues before they come to a crisis.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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