HONOLULU (KHON2) — Following a stabbing involving an 11-year-old student at Makaha Elementary Monday and numerous school threats this year, lawmakers are discussing implementing School Resource Officers for Oahu public schools.
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According to the Department of Education, School Resource Officers are assigned to Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island High and Middle Schools. SRO are police officers from county police department’s community or juvenile policing divisions that are assigned to patrol certain schools. The DOE said, Oahu does not have any School Resource Officers, but there are security attendants. One lawmaker is trying to change that.
“One of the things School Resource Officers will do is deter these types of violent acts from occurring and if it escalates to a point where violence is taking place, that there will be more swifter action taken to address these issues,” said Rep. Cedric Gates, (D) Waianae, Makaha.
The Honolulu Police Department said, its D.A.R.E. and JPO officers work closely with schools, but there are no plan to use HPD officers as School Resource Officers. Rep. Gates attributes that to HPD’s staffing shortage. Instead, he wants to work with state law enforcement.
“I’m looking forward to having discussions with Anne Lopez, our AG, to figure out what resources in terms of officers can be allocated to Oahu’s DOE School Resources Officers and be able to stand that up,” Rep. Gates said.
Some parents KHON2 spoke with said, they’re for the implementation of School Resource Officers on campus while others said they’re concerned about the idea.
“I don’t really think at such a young age such a punitive system is healthy and it’s not a good return on our investment,” said Kim Coco Iwamoto, a parent.
“That would be a good option for them, have security in the schools so maybe they can help out keeping our kids protected, because we are concerned about our kids constantly,” said Jonathan Kalauawa, a parent.
Meanwhile, Rep. Gates said, the Attorney General’s office has started a program to reach out to students. It involves teaching kids how to deal with conflict and bullying.
“We have to take care of our kids, because our kids are going be the one taking care of us guys,” Kalauawa said.
The push for School Resource Officers on Oahu’s campuses will be introduced this Legislative session.