NLR to discuss cutting School Resource Officer funding

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(KATV) A North Little Rock alderman wants to research how much city money is paying school resource officers and split the cost with the district. Linda Robinson filed the resolution Tuesday. Her research shows that in 2008, $400,000 went to pay resource officer salaries, insurance, and benefits.

To be clear, Robinson is not trying to get rid of school resource officers. Mayor Joe Smith has been asked to start the negotiations. He tells Channel Seven that he will not do anything to jeopardize the program.

All 19 North Little Rock schools share 6 safety resource officers, there use to be 8. Steve Canady says, "Unfortunately two of them had to go away because the police department needed more officers on the street."

Steve Canady is the Safety Schools Coordinator. He started the program with the help of two others back in 1990 when he was an officer. Canady says the program is working; in fact he would like to have an officer in every school. "Unfortunately that's not possible due to budget cuts for the city and budgets for the school district."

Budget cuts and reduced revenue is why Alderwoman Linda Robinson wrote the resolution to quote "assess the costs of providing resource officers and commence negotiations for reimbursement of the expense, or a portion."

Canady says the officer salaries are taken care of by the city, but it goes back to an agreement about 20-years ago that already splits cost. "We absorb the crossing guard program for the city at the same time they took on the cost of the resource officers."

The resolution reads that if discussions with the district are "unproductive," the city council would consider whether to continue the funding. Canady adds, "I am hoping that nothing comes of that. For the simple fact that these police officers are very important to us in many ways. Not only for security which is a real concern to parents but we need our youth to look up to people."

Alderwoman Robinson didn't return Channel Seven's calls or email.

The resolution goes before the city council on Monday.