school resource officers

Superintendent, Sheriff Clash Over School Resource Officers in Spotsylvania County

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In Spotsylvania County, Virginia, school officials and the sheriff’s office are in a dispute over extra school resource officers in some high schools.

After several recent violent incidents involving students, the sheriff’s office added deputies to four high schools. Days later, Superintendent Mark Taylor asked the sheriff’s office to stand down.

A violent fight at Riverbend High School last month left one student badly injured. A few days later, a fight that started aboard a bus headed to Courtland High School led to the arrests of six students. 

The sheriff’s office reacted by reassigning several SROs from elementary schools to four high schools that usually have just one deputy on duty.

Then on Jan. 27, an email from the school district’s security chief to the sheriff’s office said Taylor wanted the deputies’ presence scaled back to return to one SRO per high school.

“The request was to return the SRO deployment to normal conditions because, in fact, the principals were reporting that the school environments had returned to normal conditions,” Taylor said.

But the sheriff’s office will keep the extra deputies at the four high schools for now.

“We continue to place the safety of the children and school staff at the highest level,” Capt. Liz Scott wrote in an email. 

Taylor says one of his concerns is the fact that children at the elementary schools are unfamiliar with the deputies who are filling in.

“It’s very important to maintain continuity of service and continuity of personalities in the elementary schools where the small children particularly identify with the SROs, and we had feedback from parents wondering where is our SRO, where is the officer my children are familiar with,” Taylor said.

A spokesman from the sheriff’s office said they have met with the superintendent and school board to explain their point of view. They believe the increased number of deputies is the reason there have been no new fights in the high schools.

The current SRO agreement expires next month. Taylor said he wants to make sure the next agreement puts an SRO in every Spotsylvania school every day. 

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