FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The debate over whether to support a grant that would add two new school resource officers to Fayetteville middle schools continued into Tuesday’s city council meeting. The issue failed, marking the second-consecutive time its done so.
After the discussion was brought back up, the meeting lasted until early Wednesday morning, but it was ultimately tabled indefinitely. Barring instigated discussion in a future meeting, it’ll expire at the end of the year.
Sgt. Tony Murphy of the Fayetteville Police Dept. said SROs bring more safety to schools.
“That’s what the police department’s here to do,” Murphy said. “We’re here to protect and serve our community, and our community asked for those school resource officers, so that’s why we were there in the council chambers during the debate last night.”
Matt Bender is an attorney representing the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition, and he said those who oppose adding new officers aren’t questioning the department’s intentions. Instead, he pointed to data that shows students of color experience higher arrests and worse experiences with SROs.
“We see in local data that there is a systemic racial bias toward arresting students of color,” Bender said.
The next council meeting will feature a discussion about grant money for the drug task force.