If the Republican nominee for governor wins office and gets his way, the Arlington school system – which has stripped a police presence out of its schools this year – will be putting those school-resource officers back in. Or else.
At an Oct. 19 campaign stop in Burke, Glenn Youngkin blasted those elected officials who either already have, or are thinking about, reducing the presence of police in Virginia’s public schools.
“When I’m your governor, working for you, every school will be required to have school-resource officers on its campus,” Youngkin said at the Fairfax County rally.
How will he accomplish that? Youngkin suggested that when you’ve got school leaders by their budgets, their hearts and minds will follow.
“Let me be clear: They [resource officers] will be on every campus, or that school will lose its [state] funding. If you are a School Board and you refuse to equip your schools with school-resource officers to keep your children safe, you will need to find your funding for your school on your own,” he said.
It may well be an empty threat, or example of campaign hyperbole, and it is no sure bet that Youngkin will defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Nov. 2. But Republicans across the commonwealth are using a seminal question – who controls public education? – to try and ride to victory.
The Arlington School Board last school year voted to remove resource officers from school settings in an effort to “re-imagine” the relationship between police and public education.
Nearby Alexandria did the same thing, although there the decision was made by the City Council over objections of a majority of School Board members. In recent weeks, resource officers have been returned to Alexandria schools after a series of incidents which that led the superintendent to demand they come back, at least temporarily.