Public outcry for SRO reform at Binghamton schools grows as ‘kneeling incident’ investigation lingers

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 12:04 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 11:19 AM EST
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Tensions were high Tuesday evening at the East Learning Center in Binghamton where community members gathered at a public meeting to discuss the removal of security resource officers in Binghamton City Schools.

The sudden rise to remove police officers and student resource officers from the schools stems from an incident on New Year’s Day where a Binghamton Police Officer can be seen kneeling on the neck of a man. The incident, which followed some sort of altercation outside of Dillinger’s Irish Pub, has sparked several protests and calls for policing reform in the city from community activists and liberal-leaning politicians alike.

The day after the incident, Hamial Waddell; a Black-Asian man, filed a complaint with the city police department.

A member of the Binghamton City School District Board stated the officer in question was not currently an SRO in the district. However, members of the public said the officer was an SRO while Waddell was attending the district.

“And we know that students who are Black and brown and those that have disabilities are more likely to have negative interactions with SROs,” a protester attested to the board. “You guys are right now the perpetrators of the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Other parents, students, and concerned citizens spoke at the meeting about what alternative options we have to fix the situation, suggesting the district have more counselors, social workers and more mental health liaisons.

The officer, whose identity has yet to be confirmed with Binghamton officials, has been assigned desk duty as the city and New York State Office of the Attorney General conduct investigations into the matter. Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said there is no timeline for when the investigations will conclude.