School Resource Officers Being Pulled from some Fargo Schools - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

School Resource Officers Being Pulled from some Fargo Schools

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A staffing shortage at the Fargo Police Department means changes are coming to several schools around town. Valley News Live received a tip from our whistleblower hotline from someone concerned about changes to the School Resource Officer program; specifically that some were going to be pulled out of buildings and placed back into squad cars.

Right now, Fargo PD is understaffed by 18 people. The Police Department and Fargo Public Schools are collaborating on the issue to find a feasible solution. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schatz explained the plan.

“What they would like to do is take 3 of our SRO's and place them back onto street duty,” he said.

Schatz told Valley News Live the SRO program, which began in the late ‘90’s, could return to how it was years ago.

“We typically had SRO's the high schools. We didn’t have them at the middle schools and they used to share that SRO,” he explained. “So we’ll probably be doing a little bit more of that again.”

Lt. Joel Vettel of the Fargo PD said gaps in employment, officers on active duty military status, and officers out under the Family Leave Act are a few factors contributing to this situation. It takes seven to nine months to train in new officers, with School Resource Officers requiring extra instruction. Vettel said the Department and school district are working on a solution.

“Our plan right now is to push as hard as possible to get them back in the schools as quickly as possible,” he explained.

Vettel said the Department may have several new officers ready by October but that could change between now and the start of the school year. Although Vettel said they may be sharing officers between schools, there is no reason for parents to worry.

“As a father of two children in the Fargo Public School system, I’m extremely comfortable sending my children to school every day with the understanding that they’re in a safe and I think very secure environment,” he said.

Both Dr. Schatz and Lt. Vettel continue to tell Valley News Live that this situation is temporary. They both say Fargo Public Schools are extremely safe. Any concerned parent can call Fargo Police and Fargo Public Schools for more information. Additionally, they explain there are a variety of other measures protecting Fargo Public Schools, not just School Resource Officers.

“And so it is not the end all. Having an SRO in schools is not the overriding safety, security mode of a school,” explained Dr. Schatz.

Lt. Vettel said officers pulled from buildings and put back on patrol will be assigned to patrol areas near schools, ensuring that they can stop in throughout the day.

Some changes are coming to a few schools in the Fargo Public School District in the way of protection.  
The Fargo Police Department says an officer shortage means some school resource officers are being reassigned.Lt. Joel Vettel tells Valley News Live mainly the middle schools will be impacted, possibly Discovery, Ben Franklin, Agassiz, and Carl Ben Eielson.  Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schatz says some of the remaining officers will be pulled out of the schools and put back on the street. He adds, they will still be in neighborhoods near the schools and periodically stop in throughout the day.

The police department is currently understaffed by 18 positions. Lt. Vettel says a number of employees are currently not available for a variety of reasons, including active military duty or family/medical leave.

Lt. Vettel explained that it takes anywhere from seven to nine months before new employees are properly trained and the department hopes to have several new employees fully trained by October to help fill some of the vacant positions.

Schatz and Lt. Vettel both stress that the arrangement is only temporary. They both believe Fargo Public Schools are extremely safe, citing a variety of other security measures at each facility.

Any concerned parent can call the Fargo Police Department or Fargo Public Schools for more information.
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