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Chesterfield school workgroup recommends SRO in every elementary school

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – For several months a school safety task force and their working groups in Chesterfield have been discussing ways to improve safety at public schools.

Tuesday night, the working groups came up with multiple recommendations with safety being key. That key would start with school resource officers in every elementary school.

"I feel like it would just put that, put some more peace in our minds at home, knowing that our children are being cared for and that there's actually someone there that's sole job is to look after them and make sure that they stay safe," said Chesterfield parent Rystyn Cherry-Shealey.

Currently, the 12 middle schools and 11 high schools have school resource officers. The 38 elementary schools do not.

The school safety task force working groups recommended that the change take place over the next five years.

"We would like to see it even sooner than that, but I do believe that workgroup one is working in conjunction with police, will be making the recommendation to again do it over a five-year period of time," said Dianne Smith, Chesterfield School Board, and task force member.

Part of the proposal includes going to the General Assembly to allow retired law enforcement to keep their retirement benefits if they work as a school resource officer.

"They want us to know vehemently, they are listening, they've sat at the table with us. They've heard the reports, they've been part of the action, and so I think they don't want us to hold back," added Smith.

For one grandmother of two, safety in any classroom at any cost is money well spent.

"I think it's a good idea. I think our children should be protected at all times,” said Donna Palmore. “If they have to raise the taxes a little bit and everybody put towards it, I think it should work out."

Another recommendation from the workgroup is to allow Chesterfield County Sheriff Deputies to serve as backup and substitutes when a school resource officer is absent.

The workgroup will send the recommendations to school task force, who will then present them to the Chesterfield County School Board.