Frustrated parents of students at White Oak Elementary School voice concerns about the removal of school resource officer

CAPE CARTERET, N.C. (WITN) -How would you feel as a parent if you knew that your child’s school would no longer have an everyday resource officer on duty to keep students safe?

There’s been a high level of friction as of late between parents at White Oak Elementary School and the town of Cape Carteret Board of Commissioners.

“You and the county are required to provide them with the safety they deserve,” said White Oak Elementary School Parent, Drew Walker.

Several outraged parents attended the town’s Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, as it was their first opportunity to address the board about the recent decision to remove the school resource officer position at White Oak after this school year ends.

Cape Carteret Town Manager Frank Rush says the board’s decision is due to a lack of staffing at their police department.

Rush and others say the small department only has seven officers so providing an everyday SRO is becoming more difficult in a community of about 22,000 people.

“We’re working hard to get you an SRO,” said Cape Carteret Town Commissioner, John Ritchie. “It might not be the answer you want to hear, but it’s the best we can do.”

The town says it’s been trying to work with the county to see if they’ll allow Sheriff Asa Buck and his staff to take over the SRO responsibilities, but there hasn’t been much traction in conversations between the sides.

“Surrounding counties provide SROs in municipalities,” said Cape Carteret Town Mayor Pro-Tem, Steve Martin. “Other counties understand their responsibility, but why does Carteret not?”

That question doesn’t seem to currently have an answer, leaving parents just as frustrated as when they arrived.

The town says the current school resource officer will fulfill the duties until the end of the school year.