The ACLU has long opposed the introduction of law enforcement personnel in the form of School Resource Officers (SROs) to school campuses in Rhode Island, as the presence of such personnel can inappropriately redefine normal adolescent behaviors into issues of criminal justice. Until July of 2022, Rhode Island had provided for the partial reimbursement of salaries of newly hired SROs.
We similarly opposed two pieces of legislation which would have indefinitely extended the reimbursement structure that had previously existed for SROs, incentivizing schools to continue to hire personnel who are not adequately trained in youth mental and behavioral health, such as SROs. In opposing these bills, we noted that the students more disproportionately impacted by police practices and SRO presence are BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students. This legislation died in committee.