Greenfield High students voice concerns over additional school resource officers

  • Felisha Rosa, 18 (left), and Breyton Muiru, 16 (right), spoke during Wednesday's City Council meeting about the possible addition of two school resource officers inside Greenfield schools. The two voiced concern over the additional officers in the schools. Recorder Staff/Dan Desrochers

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/19/2018 8:18:18 PM

GREENFIELD — Two Greenfield High School students of color left to applause after they criticized the possible addition of two school resource officers to their schools during a recent City Council meeting.

Breyton Muiro, 16, and Felisha Rosa, 18, spoke against the possible addition of the officers in their schools. Their concerns brought a voice to students in the matter, and highlighted the struggles people of color.

“We don’t tend to talk to officers,” Rosa said during the meeting Wednesday evening. “It’s especially confusing with people of color. I tend to not feel officers as safe because it tends to backfire on us.”

The two students’ appeals came as the city determines whether the addition of two school resource officers is an appropriate and necessary reaction to fears of school shootings, such as the one in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, mostly students.

Last month, Mayor William Martin put money in the police budget to add the two resource officers.

The proposal has also seen push back from some School Committee members who are questioning whether the officers are necessary and if the money could be used elsewhere in the school department’s budget.

Greenfield Schools Superintendent Jordana Harper also spoke about the topic during Wednesday’s meeting. Harper said the addition of the two school resource officers is being “presented like a binary choice” whether to bring them into schools or not.

Harper, though, said the more important conversation on the topic should be how to engage students and improve a sense of community in the schools.

“If we had funding for every single position, we would still need to ensure that we have access to mental health services in schools,” she added.

These comments echoed ones made by Muiro earlier in the meeting, who said while he feels physically safe at Greenfield High School — where the lone school resource officer in the city is located — the reality is there is a lack of community between students.

“The issue with our school is they feel physically safe, not mentally safe. People don’t feel safe and secure around other people,” Muiro said.

Muiro suggested that instead of funding officers, the city should use money to improve the “sense of community” in the schools.

According to Police Chief Robert Haigh, he said he has reached out to Harper to discuss the two school resource officers before he decides on the positions’ futures.

Haigh also said he was proud of the students and hopes more will talk about their feelings on the matter.

“I think the youth should have their own voice. If I can somehow be a part of the conversation, I would love that,” he said. “I would love to sit down and talk and listen. Help me, educate me, so I can be part of the solution.”

Haigh said it is “unfortunate there is a perception that as officers, we want anything other than what’s best.”

After the meeting, Rosa elaborated on her feelings toward school resource officers in Greenfield. She said the presence of police officers in school makes her feel uneasy, especially since she is a student of color.

“It makes us more alert that they could take us down. I’m more anxious to be around them,” Rosa said.

“I don’t think I would want to be friends with them. It’s easier to get you, to turn it around,” she added.

You can reach Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

© 2019 Greenfield Recorder
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy