Alexandria City Council votes to reinstate school resource officers The decision follows an incident last week involving a weapon near a public school.
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Alexandria City Council votes to reinstate school resource officers

Alexandria City Council voted to put school resource officers back in schools during a marathon meeting on Tuesday night. Dominique Maria Bonessi/WAMU/DCist hide caption

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Dominique Maria Bonessi/WAMU/DCist

The Alexandria City Council voted 4-3 in a late-night legislative meeting Tuesday night to temporarily put school resource officers back in public middle and high schools, after several incidents this school year prompted safety concerns.

The move comes as a reversal of a previous council decision over the summer to move nearly $800,000 from the school system's SRO program — which employed five officers — into mental health resources, like school counselors. The plan faced opposition from some school board members, who called the decision rushed and lacking in data.

The decision to reverse course followed an incident last week, in which Alexandria City High School was placed in a lockdown after officials received a call about a student with weapon outside of the building. Police ultimately recovered a handgun from a student. That same day, Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington County was also placed on lockdown early in the morning in response to an active shooter threat. School was dismissed for the day, but police found no evidence of a shooting.

Alexandria City High School principal Peter Balas called for the SRO program to be reinstated during Tuesday's meeting, which went on for hours.

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At one point, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson — who had disapproved of the council's original decision to remove SROs and act against the school board's opinion — interrupted the debate.

"This sucks. This is disastrous," Wilson said. "What person would watch this meeting tonight and think, 'this is where I want to send my kids to school?'"

Ultimately, around 1 a.m., the council voted to return school resources officers to the city's public high school and middle schools for the remainder of the school year (the funding for the newly created counselor positions will also remain in place). The program is slated to end at the conclusion of the 2022 school year.

"We know this program is not a silver bullet," said councilmember John Chapman, who originally supported removing officers from schools but moved to a "yes" vote Tuesday night to reinstate them. "We gotta do something coming out of here tonight."

This post has been corrected to reflect that Washington-Liberty High School is in Arlington County.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

Previously: Alexandria Redirects Funds From School Police To A New Youth Mental Health Program

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