Local cop implements bad policy in school
September 26, 2011
Carbondale police officer Alvaro Agon is being accused of harassing the Latino community. I attended a meeting with Police Chief Schilling, Mayor Bernot, and Town Manager Jay Harrington, with a room full of concerned parents and students. Each told a story of how Alvaro affected them and their families personally. Dozens of complaints were read detailing specific infractions.
Alvaro, as a school resource officer, is creating fear and stress among Latino students and families. The stories shared were horrifying to hear. All present were citizens. I shared my own story, as a parent who saw 4- and 5-year-old Latino children afraid to go in the same room for a safety discussion with Alvaro last Halloween.
School resource officers are part of a unique program designed to create a “positive peace keeper” presence in schools to reduce juvenile delinquency. SROs can create strong connections with children, building relationships based on trust, compassion, and guidance. It’s a great program that has positive results when implemented appropriately. Chief Schilling told the group that ICE and SROs are in a shared task force throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
A decision was made to have ICE and SROs share a task force. Alvaro made a decision to collaborate with ICE to deport undocumented immigrants. As a result, Latino children have been targeted in our public schools to ferret out undocumented parents. School administrators have ignored infractions – while ICE raids on nonviolent Latinos have increased – splitting families.
National immigration enforcement policy and education policy have clear boundaries, with laws and codes that separate the two. Alvaro Agon very well might be a kind person who cares for his community, and attends church faithfully. However, an abusive choice was made to engage in activities that have crossed the line legally and ethically. Trust has been breached within the community. Retaining Alvaro Agon compromises the SRO program.
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The parents and students have asked for one simple solution for months, “Remove Alvaro as SRO.” It’s unfortunate public officials aren’t willing to do it.