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Board to Vote on Possibility of Adding Youth Resource Officers at May 30 Meeting

Posted Date: 5/22/24 (10:24 AM)

At the Saturday, May 18, School Board work session, the Board reviewed information about the possibility of adding to our current safety model several “youth resource officers” from the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD). The information – presented by Dr. Gurley and Police Chief Kochis – was generated by a working group after a February safety survey showed that 60% of respondents “strongly” or “very strongly” supported exploring the possibility of having these specially trained officers in our schools and the community (vs. 25% "strongly" or "very strongly" opposed to learning more). 

This possible partnership with police would focus on diversion from the criminal justice system and would borrow elements from the world of social work to address student and family needs. Saturday’s presentation and discussion focused on the possibility of hiring three officers (these positions are not currently reflected in either the City or the Schools budget). The three officers – one for CHS, one for Buford, and one to support evening activities at school or in the community – would be trained in areas such as youth development, de-escalation, and mental health. The new Memorandum of Understanding with CPD would reflect key changes, including that the schools would have a voice in the hiring of the youth resource officers.

At the end of the discussion, the Board voted to place this item on the agenda for its May 30 meeting. At this time, the Board will vote on whether youth resource officers will be included in the school safety model.

How Can You Learn More and Share Your Perspective?

  1. You can find the slides here

  2. Attend an upcoming outreach event. The following “walk and talks” and “courtside chats” are scheduled for police and school staff to answer questions and hear feedback:

    Wednesday,  May 22 (today)
    4:00-5:00 PM
    Greenstone on 5th 

    Wednesday, May 29
    4:30-5:30 PM
    Ridge/South 1st

  3. You can also email the Board at

Why Did a Working Group Research the Possibility of Adding Youth Resource Officers to our Safety Model?

School leaders often refer to safety as a “continual improvement process.” We have found success by doubling the staffing of school mental health professionals, training a team of Care & Safety Assistants, and working to build relationships and strengthen our community. Even so, the absence of police officers in our school creates communications challenges, increases response time, and generates a greater administrative burden on school leaders for tasks such as record-keeping and scheduling threat assessment teams. In addition, in keeping with national trends, Charlottesville is seeing a rise in juvenile access to firearms. Finally, the reality is that police officers are already in our schools on a near-daily basis attending to a wide array of (mostly non-emergency) issues. Therefore, we have looked at other schools’ models for incorporating police presence in a way that aligns with adolescent development, mental health, and restorative practices. As a related reminder, we will begin using weapons detection at ticketed events, and we are continually working on other ways to promote safety such as lighting, door access monitoring, and more.

We recognize that there is a wide range of opinions in our community about this possibility. You can find some of the representative “pros” and “cons” concerning adding youth resource officers to our school safety plan, below.


  • Communications improvements: Having an officer with a police radio in the school improves coordination.

  • Response time to a situation: Police are on-site as situations arise.

  • Greater efficiency: Since police must be present at most threat assessments, it would reduce school leaders’ work to schedule and coordinate these meetings if an officer were present at all times.

  • Relationship building with an officer: Officers are already in our schools on a near-daily basis. Having an officer who is trained in adolescent development and who knows the school community would be better than working with the officer who happens to be assigned to respond.  

  • Commitment to diversion and problem-solving: This model is based on a joint commitment to minimizing youth involvement in criminal justice through restorative practices and addressing student/family needs.

  • Crime prevention: There has been a rise in juvenile access to firearms. Knowing an officer was present on campus every day could deter students from illegal activities.


  • Unbudgeted cost: Adding police back in schools is a new expenditure during a year when schools had to cut other needed positions.

  • Possibility of creating a surveillance atmosphere that has historically had a disproportionate impact on people of color.  Is it better to have police on campus only when needed?

  • Risk of having guns on campus. Even with a trained user, having a firearm present can be unsettling and increases risk of firearm usage.

  • Who’s in charge here? Even with best intentions/policies/procedures, certain situations may expose conflict between principal’s authority and police authority.

  • Distrust of police as the best approach: If a social-work approach to policing is at the heart of this model, why not hire more social workers?

  • Unproven track record: Data has not proven the effectiveness of the school resource officer model. In addition, while some students/staff/families report feeling safer with an officer on site, others report feeling less safe. 

What is the Likely Timeline for Decision-Making and Possible Implementation?

  • This week and next week: Two opportunities for in-person Q&A with school and police leaders.

  • Thursday, May 30: School Board vote on whether youth resource officers will be included in the school safety model.

  • Summer-Fall (if a decision is made to return YROs to schools): Continued community engagement to refine the plan. Even if this model is approved and funded, implementation might not occur in the fall.


Thanks for your continued engagement and support. As we have said all along, we know that our community agrees that safety and well-being are our top priorities.