FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — As school is set to start next week for much of our area, schools across Northwest Arkansas are looking at ways to improve safety. One of those ways is through School Resource Officers.
“Our students love our SROs,” said Dr. Megan Duncan, Deputy Superintendent at Fayetteville Public Schools.
FPS wants to add more SROs to its team. The district currently has six SROs for its 15 school buildings, and its 16th building is currently under construction.
“We invest heavily in School Resource Officers for our district and for our students to make sure that we have another level of expertise that’s at the table,” she said.
Dr. Duncan said the SROs are a crucial part of their school safety efforts, and they need more of them. So FPS and Fayetteville Police are going to the Fayetteville City Council to ask for a budget adjustment for a new SRO for this school year. This would bring the team up to seven officers for the district.
“We also have plans to want to expand that program over time adding more members SROs into the district in the next couple of years,” she said.
FPS wants to add two new SROs each year moving forward until they are able to have one officer in each school building. This would also align with the Arkansas School Safety Commission’s preliminary recommendation regarding SRO numbers for districts.
“When you send your kid to school, you want your kid to get educated, you want them to be able to get that education and an environment that’s safe,” said Sgt. Tony Murphy with the Fayetteville Police Department.
The school district pays the SRO salaries for the days when students are in class. The financial burden then goes to the police department when they’re not.
Sgt. Murphy said their SROs are ready for the new school year.
“We do active shooter training annually,” which he said not all police departments do. “Our SROs are constantly training on active shooter situations.”
Dr. Duncan said the SROs are important not just for safety, but for building community relationships.
“We’re really focused on social-emotional learning in Fayetteville and they bring a whole different level to be able to show that this is a community helper,” she said.
FPS and FPD are presenting their SRO proposal to the city council on Tuesday, August 16th. The meeting starts at 5:30.