HELENA - The Helena City Commission has decided to extend the current school resource officer program.
City Officials voted five to zero to extend the current contract until June 30th of 2021. The motion brought forward by Commissioner Emily Dean will give stakeholders including but not limited to, parents, students, teachers, Helena Public Schools, heath care providers, mobile crisis response team, interdisciplinary child safety team and the City of Helena the opportunity to continue to engage in the conversation in finalizing the memorandum of understanding.
This motion was agreed to after vigorous debate and input from the community and commissioners. The vote was unanimous. However, there was concern expressed that the motion passed would not address the issue of having armed officers in schools and remain status quo but ultimately agreeing and hopeful the end result will be what is best for the children.
"It's unfortunate that we couldn't really make a clear statement today about that," says Commissioner Heather O'Loughlin. "But I am hopeful that we can have a dialogue that does result in a different model that does not include police presence in schools, or constant police presence in schools, and instead really think about how maybe we can use these resources."
Commissioner O'Loughlin proposed an amendment to the motion to include racial and social justice advocates to the stakeholder list, Commissioner Dean accepted the amendment.