Helena City Commission set to decide future of school resource officer program

Posted at 2:57 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 20:42:53-04

The Helena City Commission is set to make a decision Monday night on whether to continue placing armed police officers in local schools this year.

Commissioners are expected to take action on $292,000 in Helena Police Department funding which has been linked to the future of the department’s School Resource Officer program. The online meeting begins at 6 p.m. You can find out to take part on the city website.

Last month, the commission temporarily delayed the funding until after a community discussion on SROs. They pledged to make a final decision on it by the start of August.

City leaders heard testimony for and against school resource officers during two public meetings earlier this month. Supporters say SROs improve school safety and form important relationships with many students. Opponents say they aren’t necessary for security, and that they create a less welcoming environment – particularly for Black and Indigenous students.

Helena Public Schools leaders have expressed concerns about the impact of ending the SRO program so close to the start of the school year. Last week, commissioners indicated that, if they vote to remove officers, they may consider delaying the change to give the city and the school district more time to work on a new plan.