No more officers in Fresno schools? Non-profit says it's time for a change

Fresno Barrios Unidos is asking for action from the Fresno Unified board of trustees, telling them to put money toward programs instead of police at school campuses.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno non-profit is calling for change, starting at school campuses with the removal of school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement officers who spend their day on school campuses.

"There's a lot of reasons to not pay educational dollars to police our young people," says Ashley Rojas with Fresno Barrios Unidos.

Fresno Barrios Unidos is asking for action from the Fresno Unified board of trustees, telling them to put money toward programs instead of police.

"If they're going to school and being branded as a criminal, it's hard for them to be successful in that setting. We should be putting our resources in prevention and early intervention," says Rojas.

Todd Frazier with the Fresno Police Officer's Association says removing school resource officers from campus is not only a safety issue, but a huge mistake to a student's well being.

"Besides providing safety on campus, they provide outreach, which is something a lot of demonstrators and demonstrations have asked for," says Frazier.

With a several million-dollar deficit, one of the many decisions the board will have to make will be whether to cut ties with school resource officers and the end Shotspotter program that listens for nearby gunshots and reports it to police.

Board president Keisha Thomas says while she respects the non-profit's opinion, the campus officers are crucial to campus safety and development.

"Shotspotter... we can take it or leave it, but SROs are a necessity in my eyes. Our kids are seeing a positive interaction with these people," says Thomas.

Action News also reached out to both the Fresno Police Department, and the Fresno Unified School District, but neither wanted to comment.

Ultimately, the decision to remove school officers will be in the hands of the Fresno Unified School District trustees, as they plan to discuss the new budget on Wednesday.
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