San Marcos city leader pushes for reassessing roles of school resource officers

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Seeking to create a more relaxed education environment, school resource officers in San Marcos are being put in the spotlight.

Maxfield Baker, chairman of San Marcos’ criminal justice reform committee, spearheaded the conversation to rethink the role of school resource officers.

His hope is the committee will speak openly and publicly about the school resources agreement with the city.

“If part of an officer’s job is counseling… I think that we should have real counselors in there, not people with guns,” Baker said.

He wants his committee to have an open and public conversation about school resource officers — and what really would benefit kids most. 

“It’s just a matter of transparency,” Baker said. “[There’s a lot of talk] about the rapport that these resource officers are able to build with students… does it even achieve some of the goals that they’re claiming it does?”

Baker proposes exploring funding options for what he calls more-qualified counselors and intervention programs, saying sometimes minors can feel like they’re being treated like a criminal by an SRO.

Latreese Cooke founded a nonprofit for at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated persons: Minorities for Employment, Education, Liberty and Justice. Cooke said she doesn’t think SROs should be in schools, but there can be an upside to police in schools. 

“Any benefit to having an SRO is just so kids can have an up close and personal view of law enforcement,” Cooke said.

Cooke also said exploring alternatives would be worthwhile, if schools and community organizations work together. 

“There are holistic counseling services that are available… to assist kids, to identify what the issues are and to help them to overcome those issues as opposed to exposing them to an officer,” she said.

KXAN has reached out to San Marcos CISD for interviews, and we will update this story when we hear back.

There was a criminal justice committee meeting in San Marcos on Thursday, but School Resource Officers weren’t discussed.

That’s why Baker is pushing to get it on an agenda to address the community concerns he’s heard.

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