MEN Logo_Men Icon Light



For Parents


"We are always looking for stakeholders, If you would like to contribute,"


John Huber


Failed Partnership: How a School and Law Enforcement Left a North Carolina School System Vulnerable

Effective collaboration between schools and law enforcement is fundamental to creating and maintaining a safe and secure learning environment. Recent events in Cumberland County, NC, where Sheriff Ennis Wright’s decision to reassign school resource officers (SROs) and crossing guards from local schools has caused significant disruption, underscore this importance. This situation highlights the critical need for clear communication, trust, and proactive coordination between educational institutions and law enforcement agencies.

Importance of School Resource Officers (SROs)

SROs are more than just security personnel; they are integral to fostering a safe educational environment. They provide conflict resolution, implement safety programs, and engage in community outreach, all of which contribute to a secure and supportive school atmosphere. The removal of these officers without adequate notice or planning not only disrupts these essential functions but also creates an immediate safety vacuum, leaving schools vulnerable and unprepared.

Consequences of Poor Communication

In Cumberland County, the sheriff’s sudden decision and the method of notification have exposed the consequences of inadequate communication. The reassignment was communicated via a letter on May 21, 2024, effective from July 1, 2024, well past the MOU’s mandated renewal decision deadline of April 15. This lack of timely communication has resulted in urgent and reactive measures by local officials to fill the gaps left by the reassignment.

The breakdown in communication has led to significant frustration and a scramble to find immediate solutions, as evidenced by social media reactions and calls for special meetings. The Cumberland County Board of Education, already facing 15 SRO vacancies, now must replace an additional 18 SROs and 31 crossing guards. This abrupt change has not only disrupted school security but also strained the relationship between the school system and law enforcement.

Financial and Operational Impact

The financial commitment by the Cumberland County Board of Education, which allocated $3.2 million for SROs this school year and proposed $5.3 million for the next fiscal year for additional security and healthcare personnel, highlights the importance of maintaining a robust security presence. The sheriff’s unilateral decision, devoid of prior notice and coordination, has led to significant operational and financial challenges for the school system.

The Path Forward: Proactive Collaboration

This situation serves as a stark reminder of the indispensable nature of effective communication and coordination between schools and law enforcement. Establishing clear protocols for regular communication and decision-making processes can prevent similar disruptions in the future. Both parties must engage in continuous dialogue to ensure that security measures are collaboratively developed and implemented.

In response to the crisis, the school system is exploring third-party security options to address immediate needs. This proactive approach, while necessary, underscores the importance of having established protocols and collaborative frameworks in place to handle such emergencies seamlessly.

Building and Maintaining Trust

A strong, communicative relationship between schools and law enforcement is essential for navigating challenges and ensuring the safety and well-being of the school community. This relationship should be built on mutual trust, regular communication, and a shared commitment to the safety of students and staff. The swift response from local officials in Cumberland County reflects a dedication to maintaining this trust and addressing the immediate needs of the community.

The situation in Cumberland County underscores the vital importance of collaboration between schools and law enforcement. By establishing and adhering to clear protocols and maintaining open lines of communication, schools and police can work together effectively to ensure a safe and secure environment for all students.


Dig Deeper With Our Longreads

Newsletter Sign up to get our best longform features, investigations, and thought-provoking essays, in your inbox every Sunday.

The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.