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Birmingham schools to have full-time officer

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham Public Schools (BPS) will now have a full-time school resource officer beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, as city commissioners approved the new full-time contract during their meeting on Monday, July 10.

A school resource officer, or SRO, is a law enforcement officer that serves inside a school district to promote safety and security within the schools and build positive relationships with students, staff and parents, per the meeting packet.

For the last 20 years, a general case detective has been assigned as a juvenile detective and has spent 50 percent of their time serving as the resource officer in the schools. In return, BPS has paid for 50 percent of the cost of the officer, said Birmingham Police Chief Scott Grewe.

According to Grewe, the district approached the city in the fall of 2022 given the increase in gun violence and violent incidents in schools across the country. The full-time officer will serve primarily at Seaholm High School and will help with other issues that arise at other schools within Birmingham's city limits.

Birmingham Public Schools has agreed to pay 100 percent of the total compensation for the officer. The contract establishes a three-year agreement between BPS and the city, set to expire July 1, 2026.

The Birmingham Police Department holds control over the SRO, who will be required to follow the department’s policies and procedures while still serving inside the schools. The SRO will assist in investigations, patrol duty and traffic enforcement when schools are not in session.

Since the contract was not signed before being brought to the commission, any changes needed or made to the contract would be brought in front of the board again. City manager Jana Ecker said negotiations were completed last week and the item was added to the agenda to ensure the matter could be handled before the new school year begins.

“It’s extremely important that we send a message that everyone is safe here, especially our children,” said mayor pro tem Elaine McLain.

The commission voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve the contract for Birmingham Public Schools. Commissioners Clinton Baller and Katie Schafer were absent.


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