Education advocate hopes mental health experts replace school resource officers

Education advocate hopes mental health experts replace school resource officers

RICHMOND, Va (WWBT)- During Monday night’s Richmond School Board meeting, the group discussed a plan to reassess its relationship with the Richmond Police Department and non-RPD security officers, as Richmond Public Schools examines its racial justice measures.

Dr. Marla Crawford has more than 30 years of experience in school systems and is an education advocate. She would like to see counselors and psychologists take the place of school resource officers.

"[The students] are traumatized," said Dr. Crawford. "They experience forms of violence. They witness it, they see it, they hear it, and [schools] need to give them support and services to address those needs."

Dr. Crawford also notes that many Richmond Public School students come from single-parent or foster homes, as well as at-risk communities, and mental health experts, rather than law enforcement, can better help them with those experiences.

"They're not dealing with disciplinary issues. They're dealing with social skills deficits, meaning that students are not able to respond in a manner which we have deemed is appropriate."

While Dr. Crawford is in favor of removing school resource officers, she adds that the police can provide valuable leadership for public school students, pointing out that they can provide mentorship programs and advice.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said during Monday's meeting that the school board would recommend reviewing its relationship with RPD during the next 90 days, and that review process would include heavy community involvement. Dr. Crawford says that, at the end of the day, it's all about getting the students the right kind of assistance.

"We need to get them to a place of holistic health."

We reached out to the Richmond Police Department for a comment and have yet to receive a response.

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