Topeka 501 blames city officials for SRO ‘misinformation’

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka USD 501 pushed back Wednesday night on the announcement the Topeka Police Department wants to take several School Resource Officers (SRO) out of the district’s schools.

Tuesday, Topeka Police Chief James Brown, participating in a news conference with district officials, said he plans to take four of the positions out of the schools in order to put more officers on street patrol. Brown said at the time a long standing contract with the district only provided for the district to pay for four SRO’s while his department has been providing as many as 12 during the current school year.

Late Wednesday night, the district released a statement over what it calls “inaccuracies” in the city’s reasoning for the move and the “…dissemination of misinformation to the Topeka community.”

The district maintains it has been trying to implement a new contract with the city since September 9th and has repeatedly been either ignored or told conflicting stories by Topeka City Manager Jim Colson and Chief Brown. It says as recently as December 5th it sent a letter to both Brown and Colson expressing the district’s concerns that “nearly half of the school year” had gone by without an updated contract.

In the statement, Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Robbins states “It is the hope of Topeka Public Schools that we can resolve this issue in a manner that does not compromise the safety and security of our students.”

Chief Brown was not immediately available to respond to the district’s statements.

However, Topeka City spokeswoman Suzie Gilbert  responded to the district’s release that it also wants to found an agreement with the district.

“The City has said repeatedly, both publicly and in private meetings with school district leaders, that TPD will retain all existing SROs in schools for the remainder of this school year. No changes are proposed until the 2015-2016 school year. Chief Brown’s plan includes providing seven SROs, and asks that the school district make up the difference with 501 police, who are fully certified and trained officers of the law.”

This is a developing story, check back for any updates.

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