Home > Uncategorized > School Shootings Led to SROs… Police Brutality Leading to their Demise

School Shootings Led to SROs… Police Brutality Leading to their Demise

June 3, 2020

The public’s love affair with “good guys with guns” might be coming to an end. Last evening, in response to the horrific murder of an innocent black man at the hands of the Minneapolis police, the Minneapolis school Board voted to terminate its relationship with them. As reported by Lois Beckett of the Guardian:

The city’s public school board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night that will end the district’s contract with the Minneapolis police department to use officers to provide school security. The Minneapolis superintendent said he would begin work on an alternative plan to keep the district’s more than 35,000 students safe in the coming school year.

“We cannot continue to be in partnership with an organization that has the culture of violence and racism that the Minneapolis police department has historically demonstrated,” Nelson Inz, one of the school board members, said. “We have to stand in solidarity with our black students.”

While the vote does not bring justice for Floyd, “it will show that meaningful change is possible,” Nathaniel Genene, the school board’s student representative, said.

I have written several blog posts and a couple of op ed pieces questioning the need for “good guys with guns” in public schools and the millions of dollars schools have spent on “hardening”. Schools can partner with police and have productive relationships with local low enforcement without having them inside the building. Moreover, as Ms. Beckett writes, while the school shootings that captured national headlines were typically done by “young white men” it is the African-American community that has suffered from the placement of police officers in schools:

For decades, school shootings, typically carried out by young white men, have prompted the American government to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in putting armed law enforcement officers inside schools.

But studies have shown that more students enter the criminal justice system when more police officers are in schools, sparking concern from some advocates that the attempt to protect American children from mass shootings had unintentionally fueled a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately harms students of color.

And because the introduction of police in schools leads to a pipeline to prison, and because of the action by the Minneapolis School Board in the wake of police brutality, and because school districts will be increasingly strapped for cash, I expect more school boards will take a deeper look at their contracts with local police… and as Ms. Beckett reports, that involves a LOT of school districts:

More than 70% of public secondary schools and 30% of primary schools in the United States have sworn law enforcement officers who routinely carry firearms, according to 2015-2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

“In San Francisco, we’ve had 10-year-olds that have had the police called on them. Kindergarteners. Fifth-graders,” said Neva Walker, the executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit group that focuses on creating more equitable public schools.

“We have to get past the idea that police are the means to protect our children, especially for black and brown students,”she said.

Let’s hope the one meaningful change that happens as a result of George Floyd’s murder is a community dialogue in each of the 70% of public schools that has an SRO.


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