SRO to Remain at Glacier Creek

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
admin's picture
Kevin Murphy

CROSS PLAINS–Despite a strong demand from several residents to remove a police officer from Glacier Creek Middle School, the Cross Plains Village Board voted unanimously to renew the school resource police officer contract for another year at their June 30 meeting.

Parents, a Middleton High School teacher and a Fitchburg police detective, with a child in Middleton schools; all said the presence of a police officer has a “negative impact,” particularly on the most vulnerable students.

“The benefits of having a (School Resource Officer) are strongly outweighed by the negative repercussions on students particularly students of color. In this day and age, we need to be careful about the role the SRO plays in the education environment,” said Andrew Hartman, a teacher at Middleton High School (MHS).

Having an officer in school leads to criminalizing behavior typically associated with adolescence, Hartman added.

Heidi Ropa, Town of Cross Plains, who has a student at MHS, said minority students can have a less favorable perception of police than their Caucasian counterparts.

“They already feel singled out for their behavior and having an officer in school creates anxiety in them,” she said.

Sam Ropa, a Glacier Creek and MHS, graduate, said SROs are unnecessary as “our schools are the safest they’ve been in 30 years,” and there’s no evidence of a correlation between safer schools and SROs.

Jeff Wissink, a parent of an MHS student and a Fitchburg police detective, opposed the SRO as a lazy response to student behavioral problems from highly trained school administrators.

“If you have a doctorate, come up with a solution,” he said.

Police have become the “dumping ground” for society’s problems and while police may be needed at times at Glacier Creek, administrative teams are capable of breaking up fights. Surveillance video records disruptions and can be given to police to investigate for follow up action, he said.

“The ‘N word’ is used daily at Glacier Creek with whites calling black kid that,” he said.

Its more common to employ SROs in high schools not middle schools, said others who suggested using the SRO funds to hire more counselors.

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District funds the cost of the SRO for 10 months and the officer is assigned to other municipal duties the two other months, said Village Administrator Bill Chang. The village budgets approximately $42,000 for the SRO assignment. 

The board’s vote means Officer Roger Siver will return for the 2020-2021 school term however, it may be structured. In the past, Siver has divided his time between Glacier Creek and Park Elementary.

While a few board members initially were on the fence about renewing the SRO contract, their reluctance evaporated as discussion moved to continuing the contract.

Bob Green, a school member since 2003, said the SRO was brought in to head off gangs forming.

“A cop is not the solution for everything, but the SROs build relationships with students and that’s a positive,” he said.

Green didn’t know the exact number of social workers the district employs but admitted “they’re overworked.” While social workers are valuable, they don’t have the visible presence a uniformed officer does.

“We haven’t seen gang activity and I don’t know if it’s due to SRO but I know there are fewer kids in the halls during classes,” he said.

Police Chief Tony Ruesga supported continuing to have the SRO position and continue building relationships with students.

“If we eliminate the SRO it cripples us in the building,” he said.

Ruesga said he would work on the SRO program and put it “to the front” of his priorities, but he asked the board to give him more time as he has been chief only six months.

Other board members said July wasn’t the right time to cut the SRO position as it comes too close to the start of the academic year.

Instead, a six-month review of the position by a committee composed of parents, school, police and village officials was suggested.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet