Updated: Champaign school board to discuss police officer contract
The Champaign Unit 4 School Board on Monday will talk about the district's contract with police officers who patrol some schools, and the meeting comes as some school board members are raising concerns about the officers.
The school resource officers are provided by the Champaign Police Department, and school board member Jamar Brown said some residents recently told him and fellow board member Lynn Stuckey at a community meeting that they're concerned about the officers' interactions with students.
That comminuty concern has led to talk of possibly replacing the officers with security guards. Brown said one positive of having the guards would be that more student discipline issues would be handled at a school level and not at a police level. That, he said, would help avoid students having a criminal record at such a young age.
Meanwhile, Unit 4 School Board President Laurie Bonnett said there's no formal proposal to bring in security guards right now.
Bonnett added that the school resource officer program took a long time to put together, and to form an alternative plan quickly would be difficult. She said no action will be taken on Monday on the school resource officers contract, which is up for renewal. It will be discussion only.
Champaign police defend program
The Champaign Police Department is advocating that the school resource officer program continue.
Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said the officers contribute to a better quality of life at the schools, and that community feedback the department has received backs that claim up. He added that department data shows that the number of student arrests has dropped since the program started eight years ago.
Daniels added that school resource officers often refer student discipline issues to district staff. But, he said when the problem is more serious, police work to steer the young person away from the criminal justice system and into alternate programs, such as the youth assessment center.