Keep officers in our schoolsSome folks had a hard time stomaching the thought of placing cops in the local schools a few years ago.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
Some folks had a hard time stomaching the thought of placing cops in the local schools a few years ago. Pretty Red Wing was at no risk of a Columbine, surely.
Today, cutting half the police presence at Twin Bluff Middle School and Red Wing High School should have people stating, "No, way."
We understand that City Hall faces serious budget constraints. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, however, we contend that the city must do everything in its power to ensure that reducing red ink doesn't increase the chances of hallways running red.
Having police in local schools helps keep our children safe. Students still fight. They still carry weapons to school. Police are there to respond -- quickly and effectively.
Police presence also helps foster better relations between student and authorities.
We add that the police presence and officer's ability to secure evidence also boost the effective prosecution of students who violate the weapons policy.
If city officials insist on using the argument that other cities "our size" don't spend as much on school liaison officers, then Red Wing must apply that argument to the entire budget. Few cities of 16,000, for example, have the city communications budget we do. Few communities "our size" — and much larger — have per capita spending or the scale of services Red Wing has.
Public safety is a fundamental function of government. People have told city officials in surveys and at budget forums that police protection is vital. We add that the school liaison officer program is an important component.
The school district shares in the responsibility of keeping children safe, of course. That's why the district contributes $30,000 toward having two full-time officers at the middle and high schools.
The district also has faced tremendous financial woes much longer than the city has, however, and the district has much less flexibility with both revenues and expenses. These facts make it clear that increasing the district's financial contribution isn't possible right now.
In this day and age, taking officers out of our schools doesn't make sense. As Red Wing School Board member Perry Sekus reminded us Monday, Minnesota has witnessed two school massacres in the past six years.
Now is not the time to become less secure.