Chief Haigh is now speaking to the School Committee, responding a list of questions he has received from them.
- Chief Haigh says the budget number is $124k, not the $200k+ number that has been getting kicked around various conversation.
- Vehicles have been removed from the proposal.
- Review of the SRO cannot happen in open session because it is personnel-related.
- They have never had a formal sit-down to discuss it.
- Says he has had many requests from other school administrators wanting an SRO on-site.
- Haigh seems to be getting a bit heated.
- Thinks we are getting back to needed uniformed officers.
- Haigh: “If you want to find empirical studies, I think we can all find empirical studies to support for whatever we want.”
- Upon questioning from Member Ward, Haigh says 3 officers is sufficient to cover the 6 school locations in Greenfield.
- There has been no discussion with students, although Haigh says he has been to a lot of meetings.
- Haigh: “I don’t think we’d be here if we weren’t talking about money,” i.e., he thinks this discussion has gotten hung up because of budget constraints, not the merits of the SRO program. I’m not sure there is broad agreement on that statement.
- Haigh says he originally brought the SRO idea to Mayor Martin four years ago and that Martin then brought it up again earlier this year, and that is why he came up with this current proposal.
- Mayor Martin is now speaking about the benefits of an expanding the number of on-site officers, citing school shootings/violent incidents in other communities (despite Haigh’s earlier statements about how this is not about school shootings).
- Chair Nunez states that, personally, she would rather not see police officers in our schools and that she does not support further review of the Memorandum of Understanding. Wants to focus on student achievement. Lengthy and strongly worded comment in opposition to the SRO expansion proposal.
- Member Caron echoes Chair Nunez’s remarks, wants to see a more detailed plan—what she has before her does not seem like a plan.
- Member Hollins moves that one or two people be nominated to “wordsmith” the Memorandum of Understanding to make it more “workable” without changing the content. Mayor Martin seconds, but asks if we can develop a consensus that the document is too long. Some discussion ensues. Superintendent Harper defends the length and detail of the MOU; Mayor Martin defers to her on the question. Motion fails.
- Harper is talking now about how the discussion around this proposal and her ongoing dialog with Chief Haigh has shown that they need a more formal structure for the review of the SRO program and its performance. Also notes that expansion of the SRO program would require modifying the MOU.
- Member Caron moves that the MOU be sent back to subcommittee for further consideration, input from teacher/administrators, etc.; Member Eckstrom seconds. Member Hollins seems frustrated and confused about this motion. Chair Nunez offers an amendment that public input be included; Caron seconds. Amendment passes. Amended motion passes.
- Mayor Martin is currently getting a bit testy regarding the suggestion from Chair Nunez that the $124k for the extra SROs be moved to the School budget.
The SRO discussion is done, and the Committee is now considering whether to table the rest of the agenda or keep going. I’m pretty spent and am going to call it a night. I should be able to get a post up in the next day or two summarizing this evening’s discussion in a more coherent fashion.
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