Local task force pushes for more counselors instead of cops

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Momentum Memphis Taskforce is pushing for more counselors, not cops.

The idea is to take funding from Shelby County School resource officers and use it for more counselors.

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The task force hopes this helps kids sooner before they decided to go down the wrong path.

“Our schools should be places of learning, places that feel safe, places that do not mimic institutions like our prisons,” said Paul Garner.

Garner is the outreach coordinator with Stand for Children and part of the Momentum Memphis Taskforce.

On Monday night, the task force talked about getting rid of school resource officers in Shelby County Schools.

Garner said the plan is to take money from the sheriff’s office and use it for counselors

“If you have an ounce of prevention with counselors and other staff on hand to support people through a conflict hopefully you are starting to address those things before they spiral out of control,” said Garner.

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Garner said the task force is already having discussions with the school board and hopes to meet with the sheriff’s office soon.

Back in June of 2020, students asked the Shelby County Commissioners to defund the school resource officers and use the money for youth and low-income, underserved areas.

District officials defended the use of resource officers saying there were less violence, incidents and referrals to juvenile courts.

Garner argues we need to listen to the students.

“We are starting by listening to what our young people have to say and what we are hearing from youth is they don’t feel safer with officers in their schools, they would like more resources in place,” said Garner.

FOX13 reached out to SCS and the sheriff’s office for comment. SCS released this statement.

“Student voice and feedback permeates our work as a District. While it is law to utilize deputies as school resource officers for safety on campuses, SCS is committed to open conversations with students to build on their ideas and empower their passion for change as we continue to reimagine education, schools, and communities.”

Youth advocacy groups plan on making a presentation to the school board soon.