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La Crosse superintendent says reduce school officers, and get them out of buildings



The La Crosse school board still hasn’t taken a final vote on whether to remove police officers from local school buildings, but there’s continued pressure from the public to end the 27-year-old school resource officer program as soon as possible. 

Superintendent Aaron Engel tells the board that he still wants officers trained to work with students to serve the district, but not patrolling buildings every day.

“The way that (the program) has functioned up to this point will be no longer,” says Engel about his goal to take the officers out of buildings by next summer.  He says the officers “will only be responding to incidents” that are not safe.

The board is expected to vote on the SRO contract two weeks from now. 

On Monday, Engel expanded on his report from last month, calling for a 2-year plan to reduce the number of resource officers stationed in the district. 

Some opponents of the program want it eliminated now, not waiting for the contract to end in the summer, arguing that non-white students fear having police in school buildings.         

School board member Jeffrey Meyer says the district’s main goal for now should be to get through the pandemic, and bring students back to school sometime soon. 

Engel says having fewer of those officers in schools is “the right answer,” but he argues that assaults, fights, and threats involving students could still lead school officials to call police for help.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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