KPD gets new role in SKPS safety team

School resource officers (SROs) may be a thing of the past, but the Keizer Police Department (KPD) will have a prominent role in the next iteration of school safety.

The Keizer City Council granted approval for two contracts that will result in a KPD officer on an interdisciplinary team, dubbed the Safety and Support Response Team (SSRT), dedicated to the success of “especially unruly or threatening students.” A KPD detective will be designated as the Youth Safety and Support Officer (YSSO).

The school district will fully fund both positions and pay 50% of a supervisor’s salary at KPD. While the officer assigned to the response team remains unknown, Det. Chris Nelson, a longtime KPD officer and detective, will be the YSSO. Nelson will provide oversight for the SSRT position at KPD as well.

At the council meeting, Lt. Andrew Copeland lamented the sunset of the SRO program, but said the new programs are a “best case scenario” in the wake of the former efforts.

“Removing the officers from the schools will put more strain on the relationships because there will be patrol officers showing up and they change day-to-day. This is a workaround and it’s better than being completely gone [from the schools],” Copeland said.

The SSRT’s mission is “providing preventive, inclusive, and culturally sensitive solutions to these behaviors. In all cases, it is the goal of the SSRT to be a deterrent to discipline with the focus on wrap-around services to aid the student in their educational success and success in their future as an adult.”