Crossing the line
October 16, 2011
Thank you for your coverage of the CIRC allegations against the Carbondale school resource officer (SRO) who is claimed to have liaised with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I find it thorough and unbiased.
The most recent article on Oct. 10 contained a summary of a meeting of police chiefs. Towards the end, it appeared that Chief Schilling and Chief O’Connor attempted to construe CIRC’s allegations as a covert proxy war conducted by criminal adult illegals through their children.
Before fully assessing the implausibility of this argument, I must say that as a former Re-1 student, all my experiences with SROs have been overwhelmingly positive. Often, the SROs would become friends and mentors.
The SROs provided safety and security, especially post-Columbine and post-9/11 when everyone was on edge and needed this extra layer of protection. Now, claiming that 28-plus school-aged youth in Carbondale have colluded to create a substantial body of evidence suggesting intimidation and profiling belies common sense.
If parents did engineer a plot for children to synthesize these allegations, it is unlikely that as many as 28 would have succeeded. It is troubling that these two chiefs of law enforcement that would be expected to engage in this kind of analytical reasoning choose not to, instead behaving like conspiracy theorists deducing the origins of crop circles.
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If officers choose to enhance their income or enrich their career by liaising with ICE, then they should not be permitted to be SROs. The perception of the SRO within the community does not accommodate the duality of these distinct roles.
If an SRO participates in an ICE raid or provides assistance that furthers an ICE objective, he/she then becomes “the ICE agent that works at the school.” In a district where this perception is inimical to the well-being of up to half of the student body, protected in full by Plyler v. Doe, it is of maximum concern to create an environment where such situations will not interfere with the delivery of teaching or exercise of learning.
Lastly, I agree with CIRC statements to the effect that this discussion is no longer about a single officer or school in Re-1. This is now a policy discussion for Re-1 to entertain and consider through the lens of the students’ best interest.
Jose L. Aranda