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Educators trying to bring resource officers back to Salt Lake School District schools

The Salt Lake City School District officials are trying to bring more resource officers back to schools.

The Salt Lake City School District officials are trying to bring more resource officers back to schools. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City School District has half as many resource police officers as it used to, but that's something district officials are trying to fix. They say the COVID-19 pandemic and the labor shortage forced them to have fewer officers in their schools.

Before the pandemic, 10 Salt Lake City police officers were assigned to protect students on the campuses of the school district. Currently, there are only five patrolling the halls. This was not due to educators wanting fewer officers or budget cuts, district spokeswoman Yándary Chatwin said.

"We have always had the budget to fund a full number of officers in the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Salt Lake City Police Department," Chatwin said.

The staffing issues started during the height of the pandemic when violent protests and anti-police sentiment led to many officers leaving the force. When other school districts allowed students to return to the classroom at the beginning of the 2020 school year, Chatwin said the Salt Lake City School District decided not to.

"As many people know by now, we were the only district to remain fully in remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year," she said.

Since most of the lessons were online, Chatwin said Salt Lake police asked if they could assign fewer officers to their schools because of their significant staffing shortage. At the time, Chatwin said their lesson plans allowed them to have a smaller police presence.

"Our needs were less than they typically would be in terms of how many resource officers we needed," according to Chatwin.

However, now that students are back in their classrooms, the district wants the officers to return. Chatwin said she's not at liberty to discuss the negotiations happening with the Salt Lake City Police Department, but she says they hope to have them back as soon as possible.

"Even when we had fewer officers, we have been grateful for the support they provide," she said. "We're excited to be in these conversations, again."

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