LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In a matter of weeks, the Louisville Metro Council will decide whether to pull 17 school resources officers from the halls of Jefferson County Public Schools and back onto the streets.
If officer Tony Sacra had his druthers, he’d be back as Valley High School’s resource officer as kids returned back for the 2019-20 school year.
“I would love to go back to the school, but I signed up to be the police,” said Sacra, who has been at Valley for three years. “So wherever they put me, I’m going to go.”
Sacra was recognized alongside Louisville Metro Police Lt. Grant Riggs at Tuesday’s Jefferson County Board of Education meeting after they stopped an armed student, who had been suspended, as he walked toward Valley’s campus April 16.
“Realistically, I think that we stopped somebody that could have had the potential to do some damage,” Sacra said before Tuesday’s board meeting. “I feel that we just did our job.”
“We got lucky we saw him, and we approached him, and we stopped him before anything negative could have happened,” he added.
The student, Shunka Campbell, faces multiple charges in that incident and an unrelated robbery case.
The future of school resource officers like Sacra in JCPS remains in flux since Mayor Greg Fischer’s budget proposal calls for them to be called back into regular patrols to shore up a shrinking police force. Fischer has said he expects the city to lose around 40 officers this year, and this month’s class of police recruits has been canceled.
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said the district is looking at a stopgap measure to bring before the school board next month and a more robust plan for future school years if the Metro Council approves the budget as written.
“We think we know where it’s going to go, but I don’t think there’s any definitive answer,” he said after Tuesday’s board meeting.
Pollio said there won’t be a districtwide security force for the 2019-20 school year – “It would be impossible,” he said – and the stopgap measure may be rolled out after classes begin.
Exactly what that will entail remains to be seen.
“It’s definitely going to look different, there’s no doubt about it,” Pollio said. “It could start Sept. 1 if we have to hire new people, but that’s what we’re trying to wrestle with right now.”
Sacra said his job helps him develop relationships with students, something that helped when he stopped Campbell outside Valley on April 16.
He worries about what the loss of resource officers will mean for JCPS in the future.
“You never know what tomorrow holds,” Sacra said. “I think the police in the building, the car parked out front, I think that lets a lot of people know that we’re there, the kids are safe, and it also makes the staff feel comfortable if there is a situation.”
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