Education

‘Not Just Any Officer Can Do This’: Cities Rethink Presence Of Police Officers In Schools

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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Cities are considering doing away with on-site officers for school districts after young protesters expressed apprehension toward law enforcement officers, a move a national police association official told the Daily Caller News Foundation is concerning.

Portland public schools discontinued its partnership with the Portland Police Bureau and Minneapolis suspended its resource officer program after protesters for George Floyd, who died while in police custody, demanded that officers be removed from schools on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported. Other districts in Denver, St. Paul, Minnesota and Charlottesville, Virginia, are considering similar steps, but have yet to act.

“Removing [the officers] is beyond my comprehension,” Mo Canady, the executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, told the DCNF on Friday. “I’d have to know if this is a knee-jerk response, which would be concerning. If there are foundational problems with the program, we have a variety of things we can do to help.”

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) does not support the decision to remove officer presence from schools, he added.

“These officers are specifically trained and selected to work in a school environment — not just any officer can do this,” Canady said.

He encouraged any district that might be considering reevaluating its resource officer program to examine whether or not it was working.

“They can reach out to us online or over the phone. We would be glad to help, it is important to understand what the organization is and what it is not,” Canady said.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he would terminate the school resource officer programs in two smaller districts that cost the city $1.6 million annually on Tuesday, the AP reported. The Portland Public School district is the city’s largest district with a student population of about 49,000. When combined with the two smaller districts, they have around 53,000 students altogether.

High school students have long called for an end to the resource officer program, the AP reported.

“Leaders must listen and respond to [the] community. We must disrupt the patterns of racism and injustice. I am pulling police officers from schools,” Wheeler said.

Some Portland residents approved of Wheeler’s decision, while others expressed concern for students’ safety in the instance of an emergency, the AP reported.

“Over the last several years there have been ongoing conversations about the police and their role in public schools. I want to reassure the public that if there is a public safety emergency at a school, PPB will respond,” said Portland Police Chief Jami Resch. (RELATED: Glimpse Of Toy Gun In School Related Zoom Call Results In Police Response To Family Home)

The Department of Justice endorsed a multi-purpose model for school resource officers. Along with their law enforcement role, they are “mentors, informal counselors and educators on topics ranging from bullying to drunk driving” to advocate school safety, the AP reported.

“Properly trained officers work closely with school administrators. Generally there is an understanding that anything short of illegal activity should be handled by school officials,” Canady said.

The Portland Police, the Portland Public School District and Portland Mayor Wheeler did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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