WS/FCS approves adding SROs at five local high schools

WS/FCS approves adding SROs at five local high schools
November 04
12:11 2021

Students at five local schools will soon see an increase in the number of School Resource Officers (SROs) they see on campus. During a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education approved adding an additional SRO at five schools: Glenn, Mt. Tabor, Paisley, Parkland and Reynolds. 

The recommendation to add officers came from Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough. The FCSO took over SRO duties last year after the Winston-Salem Police Department decided not to renew their contract to fill vacancies on patrol. When discussing the recommendation during the meeting last week, Kimbrough said he has been trying to convince district leaders to add more SROs since 2019, but he was told no. 

“I said based on the data that we have seen going into this situation, you need more than one SRO; I was told no. Last year the same thing,” Kimbrough said. 

“Check the facts, check the data. We’ve never seen gun violence in this city like we’ve seen in recent times, we’ve never seen violence in our schools like we’ve seen in recent times.”

Kimbrough said his recommendation is based on years of experience in the field and facts. “I spent 38 years serving and protecting as a federal agent and a state agent. I know what I know .. I look forward to a day that we don’t need an SRO, but that day is not today,” Kimbrough said. 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several speakers including Effrainguan Muhammad, director of 10KFearless, a group of local men and women trained in conflict resolution, and local activist Ricky Johnson, said more law enforcement is not the answer. They both recommended using programs, volunteers, and other initiatives to steer teens away from violence. 

Muhammad mentioned the “Dads on Duty” initiative in Louisiana. 

The initiative was formed in response to several fights at Southwood High School, where nearly two dozen students were arrested. According to reports, since the group of more than 40 men started volunteering throughout the school day, there haven’t been any fights at the school. Muhammad said, “What was it about these men that brought peace to that high school? These men didn’t have specialized degrees in education. No guns, no batons, no mace, but their mere presence restored order in that high school.”

Johnson, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of Action4Equity, a grassroots organization geared toward ensuring equity for every student in the district, raised the point that data shows more law enforcement in schools doesn’t always mean less violence. 

“We want you to use the best information we have about what actually supports children and what reduces violence … there’s no evidence according to the Justice Policy Institute that expanding law enforcement and adding SROs will actually make schools safer,” Johnson said. “We must know and understand the difference between what makes us feel safer and what actually makes us safer. We do believe the district’s goals are well intended … but we have to get the community more involved.”

Kimbrough said that he is all for programs and other initiatives, but there is also a need to ensure that the students, faculty and staff are safe. Kimbrough said he has sat down with administrators at Glenn, Mt. Tabor, Paisley, Parkland and Reynolds, and they all said they need more than one SRO. 

“I’m all for these programs that we’ve talked about, but there is not one solution, it has to be a plethora of solutions,” Kimbrough continued. “These are not just my ask, this isn’t just what the facts say, this is what the men and women who work, who serve, and educate our students want.” 

When it came time to vote on the new SRO contract, the motion passed 8-1. Elisabeth Motsinger was the only board member to vote against the recommendation.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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