Champaign school resource officer program called into question

Champaign -- Police have patrolled Champaign schools since 2006, but some parents say the extra security increases their child's chances of arrest.

Putting police in schools is not only supposed to keep students secure, btu also provide them with a positive law enforcement presence.

"We help make the building safer, we help people feel safer, and we develop the kinds of relationships between kids and police that we want to see for the future," said Champaign Deputy Police Chief, Troy Daniels.

Daniels also says the department's five school resource officers imbedded in Champaign Unit 4 School District's middle and high schools have a proven record of success.

"There were about 56 students arrested the year before the SRO program started," said Daniels "But since that time there were about 20 arrests that happened last year."

But some parents question whether those statistics tell the full story.

"The amount of African-American children that are being arrested...that should alarm you," said one Unit 4 grandparent.

Of the 21 students arrested by SRO's during 201314 school year, 19 were black, one was Latino and one was white. But Daniels says officers are influenced by behavior, not race.

"If you look of the demographics of the suspension rates of Unit 4, they mirror the arrest rates of the students we arrest," said Daniels.

Still, school board members say a discussion should be had.

"I'm very much for looking into both sides of this because I sit on both sides of this," said school board member Jamar Brown. "As a community member and as a school board member."

The Unit 4 School Board will review the findings of an evaluation committee that surveyed students and teachers last fall. Members will then decide whether to renew its SRO contract with CPD at the end of June.

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