Cumberland Co. Sheriff’s Office to stop providing school resource officers, crossing guards to several schools

WRAL News on Wednesday learned the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office will no longer provide school resource officers (SROs) to several public schools in the county.

According to a letter sent to Hope Mills Police Department by Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright, the sheriff’s office will no longer assign school crossing guards or deputies as SROs to schools in city limits and several other schools in the county.

The sheriff’s office said they will be assigning deputies only to schools located within the unincorporated areas of Cumberland County.

The sheriff’s office provided Hope Mills with a list of schools that would no longer have SROs and crossing guards beginning July 1:

  • Baldwin Elementary
  • Cumberland Mills Elementary
  • Rockfish Elementary
  • C. Way Collier Elementary
  • Hope Mills Middle School
  • Southview Middle Schoo
  • Southview High Schools

According to Cumberland County Schools, the district will be responsible for providing 34 SROs and 98 crossing guards in the county.

The Hope Mills Police Department said several towns in Cumberland County, including Hope Mills and Spring Lake, will have to assume responsibilities at schools in their jurisdictions.

“This step was necessary because the sheriff’s office is short-staffed and had to eliminate certain assignments so they can have enough deputies to cover calls for service,” Police Chief Stephen Dollinger said in a letter to the Hope Mills town manager.

Dollinger said while he understands why the sheriff’s office had to make the decision, it will cause more strains on police officers.

“It inevitably places the responsibility of answering calls for service, providing security and arranging for the safe crossing of students on our department,” he said.

Dollinger said school administrations, students, staff and parents have grown accustomed to SROs and crossing guards assigned to their schools by the sheriff’s office and removing them would cause public outcry.

Additionally, Dollinger said the decision would create several other issues, including:

  • The additional funding needed to hire and pay officers to work as SROs and crossing guards, and related expenses such as uniforms, vehicles and equipment.
  • Pulling officers off patrols to handle school fights despite service calls increasing.
  • Adding further strain on already short-staffed police departments.

Wright said he will hold a meeting with other police departments on Thursday, Jun 6, at 2:30 p.m. at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the decision.

Both Dollinger and Fayetteville Police Chief Kemberle Braden are expected to attend. – Local News