Many parents and teachers believe a wave of violence in Alexandria, VA, schools coincides with the City Council’s decision last May to remove School Resource Officers and reallocate the $800,000 in funding to hire mental health professionals. The SROs were released in the beginning of the 2021 school term, yet, so far, no counselors have been hired.
Evelin Urrutia is the Executive Director of Tenants & Workers United of Alexandria, a non-profit organization supporting low-income families and people of color. She says minority students are intimidated by uniformed officers and believes the money could be better spent.
She has also seen the disturbing videos of fights and assaults at the middle and high schools but thinks the City Council’s decision to eliminate the SROs is still the correct one, WJLA reports.
However, some law enforcement professionals view the matter differently.
Damon Minnix is an Alexandria police officer and President of the Southern States Benevolent Association. He says SROs are a deterrent. “Wherever you have a police officer, safety tends to follow,” he said.
Alexandra school officials have acknowledged the increase in violence, including a student being shot and another arrested after bringing a handgun to the high school. Last week, at a hearing of the City Council, the school superintendent delivered an urgent message.
“I’m pleading with the City Council this evening that we reinstate our school resource officers immediately,” said Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., Superintendent of Schools, Alexandria.