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Despite political arguments over who supports police the most, both major parties want voters to believe the answer to school shootings is more funding for police.
Yet, an alarming trend of school resource officers being accused, charged or sued for sexual misconduct is calling into question the idea that throwing more money at police will solve our problems.
School resource officer sexual misconduct
On Aug. 3, two former school resource officers at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina were arrested after a sexual misconduct investigation, according to the Post and Courier.
Conrad Sands Stayton, 40, was charged with third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and misconduct in office over allegations he kept “pornographic” photos of a 17-year-old student on his phone. Stayton allegedly possessed over 15 images of the student on his personal cell phone involving “sexual activity or appearing in a state of sexually explicit nudity”, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
His supervisor at the Goose Creek Police Department, 52-year-old Shelly Love Ollic, was also arrested for allegedly knowing Stayton maintained an inappropriate relationship and failing to report the inappropriate behavior to authorities. The student later reported being sexually assaulted by Stayton, according to the affidavits.
Already imprisoned, more victims come forward
On Aug. 4, Valley News Live reported an additional two victims came forward against a former sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer in Bagley, Minnesota who is already facing seven felony charges across two criminal cases involving sexual misconduct against two teenagers.
In fact, 34-year-old Neil Dolan is already serving time in South Dakota for similar crimes stemming from when he was the school resource deputy at Bagley School District and a camp director at Many Point Scout Camp in Ponsford, Minn. According to court documents, one male victim came forward in 2021 with details of abuse he suffered at the hands of Dolan between 2016 and 2019 when the victim was 13 and 14 years old.
The victim told Minnesota investigators Dolan would call him into his office, lower the blinds and lock the door, and forced his hands on the victim under threats of “You’d better f****** do this or else I’m going to get you in trouble”.
Meanwhile, a San Diego Community College District police officer has filed a claim against her supervisor, alleging he used his power to sexually harass and abuse her before retaliating against her after she refused his advances, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Aug. 4.
Students at risk as Democrats and Republicans play politics on police funding
Representing just a few recent cases, the alarming trend involving school resource officer sexual misconduct has failed to make its way to the national discourse on public safety.
In fact, there is no national database on school resource officer misconduct and few studies have been published on the issue.
While the desire to ensure schools are safe for students is a noble endeavor, few politicians, including President Biden, have addressed the issue of sexual misconduct among law enforcement.
The Uvalde school shooting and others have already made clear that simply having armed police officers in schools don’t necessarily prevent school shootings. Yet, as the midterms approach, Democrats and President Biden have ramped up their pro-police messaging after years of Republicans accusing them of wanting to defund the police.
While politicians battle over tough-on-crime propaganda that creeps up during every election cycle, students across the country remain at-risk of sexual exploitation among those sworn to protect and serve.