Salem police chief Jerry Moore announced he would take school resource officers out of schools next year. (Amanda Loman/ Salem Reporter)

Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore on Monday announced his agency would take school resource officers out of schools for the next year after the issue has drawn hours of testimony at recent school board meetings.

The move comes as the Salem-Keizer School District is considering if it will even have in-person classes to start the year.

Moore told the Salem City Council he plans to examine what changes to the program would be appreciated with schools and the community and come back with suggestions about what the future of the program will look like.

“I truly believe that it’s probably one of our best ways to build relationships with our young people in this community,” Moore said.

He said he came to the decision with Superintendent Christy Perry and couldn’t ignore the testimony that has been provided at school board meetings by students of color who said police presence in school leads to disproportionate discipline.

READ: For 50 years, police have patrolled schools in Salem. Now, some say it's time for a new approach.

The school’s contracts with Salem police, Keizer police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office cost the district $963,778 so far this school year, district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said last month.

Salem police are the largest agency participating in the program, employing eight of the 11 police officers stationed at local schools last year. Their contract costs the school district about $623,000 annually.

Moore’s decision does not affect district contracts with other law enforcement agencies.

Lt. Debbie Aguilar, Salem police spokeswoman, said the department doesn’t know where school resources officers will be reassigned yet, but should have a plan in the next few weeks. 

Aguilar said someone in the department will still investigate child abuse cases.

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