Police outreach program cut from classrooms

One local school district will no longer allow officers into the classroom after a small group of parents complained to city leaders.

"The losers here are our children and safety in our schools," Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said.

Superintendent Mike Shimshak received a letter from the Carbondale Relations Commission asking for the program to be suspended due to lack of community involvement, a suggestion of using other venues of outreach, and recommendations from the Department of Justice that were made to the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department concerning outreach.

"Right now I've put a hiatus on the program,” Shimshak said.  “I think it's important to listen to the concerns of the community and find something that works for everyone."

"I have yet to have a single parent come up to me and say this is a bad thing for our children," Henry said.

Henry says the suspension of the program removes a vital lesson from Carbondale schools and hurts the entire community.

"We need to have our children understand that the police are the good guys, and if they're in trouble somewhere they can run to them for help instead of running away from them," Henry said.

Henry and Shimshak say they support having police officers in the classroom as a form of community outreach, but first they need your input on how to best do that.

Carbondale leaders were unable to get the issue on the July city council agenda.

The program will be suspended until at least the next council meeting, which comes after the start of school in August.

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