School Cop Will Stay Put 'For Now,' Town Manager Says
Town manager Scott Carew said School Resource Officer Bryan Wright won't be replaced while a new shared services agreement between the district and township is crafted.
The township has put on hold plans to replace School Resource Officer (SRO) Bryan Wright, while it crafts a new shared services agreement with the school district, township manager Scott Carew said Friday.
Controversy has swirled all week around the police department’s decision to replace Wright, who has served as SRO for 13 years, with Officer Don Brauckmann. Residents responded by starting a petition—which currently has more than 1,300 signatures—and launching social media campaigns to broadcast their support for Wright. However, Carew said the public outcry over the issue didn’t play into his decision to “hit the reset button.”
In researching the matter, Carew discovered the shared services agreement between the district and the township regarding the SRO position expired in June 2001, and was never renewed. And while the police department, and the township, have the authority to shuffle personnel, "the SRO is unique compared to other positions in the department because it is a shared service with another organization," Carew said.
In a statement, Carew wrote, “The SRO primarily works with the school staff, students and parents. As such, there needs to be consultation with the school district that marries the objectives of our police department with the objectives of the school district based on the expertise that both groups bring to the table.”
(To read the full text of Carew's statement, click on the PDF above.)
Additionally, the school district bears the brunt of the cost of the SRO, paying for 10/12ths of the position’s salary—since the SRO works within the district 10 months out of the year. Wright earns $99,881 annually, not including benefits or pension.
Carew said he plans to begin immediately working with the school district and the police department to craft a new shared services agreement that covers not only the short-term goals for the SRO position, but one that looks to long-term strategies as well—something that was missing from the original agreement.
“We need to have a plan that not only deals with right now, but five years, 10 years from now,” he said.
For the time being, Wright will remain SRO. But as for whether there could be any future changes to the position, Carew said, “That’s a question that will be answered when we negotiate a new shared services agreement.”
School Board President Don Mishler was hesitant to comment, since he hadn’t spoken to Carew or read his statement in full.
“If it means that they (the township) recognize the role of the SRO is more significant than just a police officer, then I am encouraged. Because that’s what it’s become,” Mishler said, adding, “We’re glad to see the community views Officer Wright the same way we do. It’s heartening.”