A Salem police vehicle. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Eight Salem police officers who used to patrol local schools will be permanently reassigned to patrol and emergency call response, Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack said Wednesday.
The officers haven't been at local schools for nearly a year because of the shift to online classes last spring.
Now, they won't be coming back as schools reopen. Superintendent Christy Perry said Tuesday night that the Salem-Keizer School District would not renew its contracts with local law enforcement agencies to station officers in schools.
The district previously had contracts with the Salem Police Department, Keizer Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Office to station 11 officers in middle and high schools across the district. Eight of those officers were Salem police.
Perry temporarily suspended the contracts for the 2020-21 school year to allow the district time to make a decision about the future of school safety programs. At the time, she said the switch to online school meant officers weren't needed on campus.
Since that decision, Womack said the department's school resource officers have been working in areas of immediate need. Those assignments will now be permanent, allowing officers to respond to "ever-increasing service demands."
"While we may be losing some ability and opportunity for youth engagement, we are also now able to redirect some of our valuable and limited personnel resources back to the core services that this community expects and deserves. Regardless of any contractual relationship, we will continue to work collaboratively with SKPS on school safety and emergency protocols," Womack said in a statement.