I emailed Greenfield Chief of Police Robert Haigh on Wednesday, April 4 asking if it was accurate to characterize his position on the expansion of the School Resource Officer program to be that the School Committee can be involved, but that the allocation of more SROs is a decision that rests with the Police Department (assuming sufficient budget).
I sent a follow-up email on Friday, April 6. So far, I have gotten no response from Haigh.
Absent any response from Haigh, my interpretation is that he (and presumably Mayor Martin) are proceeding on the assumption that because the Memorandum of Understanding governing the SRO program mentions “officers,” the Police Department is free to change the number of officers as it sees fit. As I have written previously, that interpretation does not seem to line up with a full reading of the MOU, particularly Section IV.A.1.
I have also heard nothing back from either Chief Haigh or Superintendent Jordana Harper regarding the make-up and output of the Collaboration Team which is supposed to have assessed the effectiveness of the School Resource Officer program.
Absent some concrete data regarding the effectiveness of the SRO program since its creation last year, I am not sure how we can have a real conversation about whether it makes sense to expand it. Both Chief Haigh and Mayor Martin have cited “safety” as their concern. Safety of the kids in our schools is obviously important, but so are adequate compensation for our teachers, sufficient numbers of ELL instructors to meet the needs of Greenfield’s population, having well-stocked libraries, being able to send students on high-quality field trips, and any number of other needs for which money in the budget is short.
Citing “safety” as a justification without providing any concrete data to support their claims is little more than a rhetorical ploy. I hope to see an honest and realistic discussion of this question at the School Committee meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. I will be attending that meeting and plan to provide live updates.
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