SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors have not made a decision on arming campus resource officers, a hot issue in the Spokane community.
According to SPS spokesman Brian Coddington, Superintendent Shelly Redinger commented at a work group meeting with community members on Tuesday evening that decision had not been made yet, and that one of the possibilities would be that the board would wait until after board elections in November.
Three spots on the board are up for election in November, Coddington said. He said Redinger’s comments were in response to a question about when the decision to arm CROs would be made.
Last month, the board was shown a summary of an upcoming report by Michael Dorn of Safe Havens International, a nonprofit campus safety organization that has been working with the district for the past nine months, according to Coddington.
The summary showed multiple points that will be included in the final report. Coddington said Dorn did not make a recommendation one way or another on arming CROs at SPS, but did say that he couldn’t find another school district of a similar size in the United States that didn’t have some type of armed guard.
Dorn told the board that possibilities include arming the CROs, contracting through a local law enforcement agency, or a hybrid that combines elements of the two, according to Coddington.
KREM obtained the summary given by Dorn, which also included commendations for the district’s security efforts and also listed areas where they can improve. It also said the community had a greater difference in opinions on the matter of school safety than many communities across the country.
The summary identified the issue of arming security as something that causes “knee-jerk reactions [that] are causing serious harm in many school districts” and said that “SPS has been proactive, thoughtful, deliberate and ethical” in its approach.
The summary also commended SPS for taking a “variety of behavioral approaches” to help prevent violence and said the district has positively utilized resources such as surveys, task forces and physical and emergency preparedness measures.
Several areas for possible improvement were also identified in the report. One of the first areas listed said that the district’s efforts to prevent violence through different strategies still weren’t adequate.
Another point of improvement raised by the summary was a need to restructure and increase the amount of oversight over the use of force by CROs. Shawn Audie, a resource officer at Ferris High School, resigned after he received backlash for his use of force while breaking up a fight. He resigned shortly after the incident.
It also listed opportunities to improve emergency training and plans, the use of radios, visitor screening and student supervision.
Dorn’s summary also said strained resources at partner agencies and budget limitations also pose challenges for SPS when it comes to security.