State’s attorney expresses support for school resource officers

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — While Urbana and Champaign school districts look at getting rid of School Resource Officers (SRO’s), Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz is coming to their defense. She says SRO’s play an important role in student’s lives.

In Urbana, the effort to do away with SRO’s started with a petition written by a former high school student. It said the money to pay for SRO’s should instead go to black, minority and trauma-informed educators and counselors.

Urbana’s SRO program is somewhat new. An officer started at the high school in February 2019. That was after issues with fights at the school. City leaders voted two weeks ago that they could end it without legal repercussions, but Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz says it would be a loss.

“They’re dedicated. They’re highly-trained. They have to want to be a school resource officer, it’s not just a normal assignement, and they really care about the kids and the young people that they’re working with,” said Reitz.

She went on to say that we shouldn’t take national issues and make changes locally because of them. For example, concerns over SRO’s were sparked by concern over police officers in general that stemmed from George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor’s killing in Louisville.

Champaign schools will also be looking at their SRO contract tomorrow night. They have SRO’s at all of their middle and high schools.

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