Spokane Schools details new safety model and what changes your child can expect

SPOKANE, Wash. — This summer, the Spokane Public School Board passed an equity resolution. A part of it is a new safety model, which removes campus resource officers (CRO) from schools.

The 12 campus resource officers will be replaced with Safety and Wellness Specialists. Because they’re not commissioned officers like CROs, students cannot be arrested by school district employees. These changes are getting mixed reactions.

“I think their [CRO] relationship that they can have with students can be really beneficial and can help foster a safer school environment,” said Ivy Pete, a junior at North Central High School.

She doesn’t think getting rid of CROs is the right call and said her school’s current CRO is a great part of their community.

“At NC, we talk about who is your support system,” Pete said. “Who do you have to trust and who do you connect with, and an SRO [School Resource Officer] is that for some people.”

She said she does see the other side to removing them.

“A lot of kids, trauma for them can be could’ve been police coming into their homes,” Pete explained. “That could’ve been the last time they saw their parents when police come.”

SPS officials said they want to dive more into mental health and wellness.

“We’re putting a much more of a focus around a proactive approach to safety where we’re really putting an emphasis on the social, emotional piece with our students,” said Shawn Jordan, executive director for SPS secondary schools.

Jordan said if there is a non-emergent situation, police could still be called. However, a supervising officer would determine if that should happen.

“Ultimately, Spokane Police Department in our new model would make the decision about whether or not an arrest was appropriate or not,” Jordan explained.

He said if there is immediate danger, employees would call 911 immediately.

Pete said she doesn’t think students should be arrested in some situations.

“Hopefully I would think that no officers would have to make arrests, but in the event that there was an arrest, I would rather have it be him [CRO] than an outside police officer,” she explained.

She believes having an unfamiliar face go into the school will do more harm than good.

Jordan said CROs will remain in schools until the plan is finalized.

“I believe the school board is out to do the best for students,” Pete said. “They’re saying equity, safety and positivity for everyone and so how do we achieve that? It might not be tomorrow and this SRO conversation is lasting and continuing.”

The next webinar is on Aug. 28 at 12:00 p.m.

RELATED: Spokane Schools to discuss new safety model; Resource officers replaced by staff that will no longer arrest students

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