Groups calling for the Wake County school system to remove police officers from schools are misguided. Today’s high schools have become such a melting pot that it’s unreasonable to believe that every student, parent and visitor who comes to a high school campus will come with the snow-white intentions of furthering the education of young people.
Some students will come to campus with drugs. Others with guns or other weapons. Visitors, as we’ve seen in several national incidents, will come bent on doing harm to anyone they come across. And, more and more, these days, small fights between two kids turn into spectator events that turn into social media entertainment, prompting others in the crowd to get involved in some way.
Wake County tries hard and expends considerable resources to keep our high schools as safe as they can, but it’s simply never going to be enough. Teachers, who are already asked to be educators, counselors, paperwork shovelers, nursemaids and, sometimes, surrogate parents, don’t need to be shouldered with the burden of being campus police.
To be sure, there are questions that arise from the incident at Rolesville High School. School system officials and Rolesville police should and are working to get a full understanding of what happened and whether the officer involved acted inappropriately in the circumstances. If it is determined that he did, we suspect, given the glaring light shining on this incident, that appropriate penalties will be meted out. But it’s also important to remember that, if the officer did something wrong, that shouldn’t cast a wide net on all police officers.
In many schools, the School Resource Officer is among the most beloved and respected adults on campus. They earn that respect through their actions and not from the badge on their uniform.
Those who would have police removed from Wake County high schools suggest that more money be invested in counselors. Regardless of the resources invested in counseling staff, those people will no more be able to address the problems students bring with them from home than a school resource officer. And they will certainly be less well equipped to manage a crisis situation that turns into a mob scene.
In fact, one could make the argument that a single school resource officer – especially in our largest high schools – isn’t enough to do the job properly.
Taking the officers currently in the schools out would be a tacit admission that adults are powerless to stop teenagers from doing whatever they darn well please.