Norwich Board of Education in favor of school resource officers returning to middle schools

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NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Norwich Board of Education unanimously approved bringing back school resource officers (SROs) to the two middle schools.

One middle school is the Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School; the other Teachers Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School.

SROs at the middle schools were eliminated several years ago because of budget cuts.

The chairman of the Board of Education brought up this proposal, and it did receive support from other members of the board.

“Given the complexity of today’s world and the volatility and the uncertainty that has been wreaking havoc not only in our schools but really worldwide,” said Board of Education Chairman Bob Aldi.

It follows incidents in Connecticut and across the country involving TikTok challenges and other incidents of violence at schools.

“The biggest thing is relationships,” Norwich Police Officer Robert McKinney said. “Too many of these kids are growing up now with no relationship with a police officer, don’t know how to interact with a police officer.”

McKinney is in the Norwich Police Department’s community policing unit and sits on the Juvenile Review Board. He knows the importance of building relationships with students, especially those in the middle schools.

“The fact that you had that relationship and you know that that officer is going to be there five days a week when you’re at that school, it’s easier to connect with that person,” McKinney said.

It’s a job he’d like to have.

“I feel like if you’re gonna affect change in the future it starts with kids,” McKinney said.

“We just want to get try to get ahead of it,” Aldi said. “Be proactive, not reactive.”

The superintendent of schools will now meet with the police chief to see if this is something they can make happen.

News 8 also spoke with Lieutenant Anthony Gomes at the Norwich Police Department who said he thinks this is a great idea. He said the goals of a school resource officer have always been to promote good programs, to really make connections with students, and focus on school safety. Any type of arrest would be a last resort.

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