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Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Held Meeting to Addressed Reason For Removing School Resource Officers From Schools and Action Plan

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office held a private meeting on Thursday, June 6th, to discuss the removal of safety resource officers (SRO) from schools. Cumberland County Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr., Assistant Chiefs Todd Joyce and Robert Ramirez from the Fayetteville Police Department, Spring Lake Police Chief Errol Jarman, and Cumberland County School Board Member/Chairwoman Deanna Jones were in attendance.

Last month, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputies announced that they will no longer take over the duties of School Resource Officers (SRO) and crossing guards for nearly 50 Fayetteville city schools, per ABC Channel 11 News.

It was also noted in the article that students like Hannah Russell expressed her concerns to ABC 11 Channel News, emphasizing the importance of SROs in schools.

School Resource Officer (SRO) at the bus stop; Courtesy of ABC News Channel 11

“There are sexual assaults that the police are working to prevent. There are firearms and knives brought to school, and the police are there to assist with the investigation. Drugs. “All kinds of things,” the Pine Forest High School student said.

Her mother, Chasity Russell, added, “With my daughter, she feels more comfortable going to the school resource officers than she does the counselor.”

Cumberland Co. Sheriff, Ennis W. Right; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

In a press release, Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis W. Wright stated that the change was due to the shortages and challenges of recruiting and hiring school resource jobs, stating that the department is unable to carry out its contract.

The Sheriff’s Office press release states that public schools in Cumberland County geographic areas without a municipal police department, except the Town of Stedman, will only renew the contract, which expires on June 30th.

Sheriff Wright emphasized the critical role of school resource officers in ensuring the safety and well-being of schools and communities, highlighting the need for collaboration between municipalities and local law enforcement agencies.

During the initial informational and organizational meeting, the Sheriff’s Office established a logistic plan to ensure a smooth transition for the School Resource Officer Program. As a result, to provide the necessary personnel and a proper level of protection for students, faculty, administrators, and the public concerning schools’ safety, municipalities with police departments will provide SROs and traffic control officers for schools within those municipalities for the 2024–2025 academic year. In the meantime, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office will continue to supply school resource officers for summer and year-round schools until the start of the regular school year in the fall.

“The agencies will work together with the Sheriff’s Office, providing training for all of the agencies and the school board to develop contracts based on the current Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office contract, as well as mutual assistance agreements, protocols, and operational functions for a more complete School Resource Officer Program,” as detailed in the press release.

Sheriff Wright is more than confident that law enforcement agencies and the school board will work effectively together during the transition into establishing a safe environment for children and the public under the new changes for the SRO program. Despite Wright’s confidence in the efficiency of this transformation, he also acknowledged the necessity for elected leaders to provide the necessary funds to support the SRO Program.

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