A "defund the police" movement has ignited across the country as Americans protest the unjust death of George Floyd. While the focus has been on completely abolishing local police departments, the Denver Public School system is contemplating ending its relationship with the Denver Police Department.
The resolution, put forth by board Vice President Jennifer Bacon and Secretary Tay Anderson, would remove School Resource Officers (SROs) from the district's public schools. Four of the seven members of the board are in favor of the resolution, which would go into effect sometime by the end of the year.
“We are seeing more of our students being ticketed at such a young age. Our schools cannot be ground zero for the school to prison pipeline,” Anderson told ABC 7. “Our students shouldn’t be greeted by law enforcement officers. They need to be greeted by mental health support, school counselors and full-time nurses in our schools,”
“Students deserve the opportunity to be taught and to process what it is that they’re experiencing. That’s the different between having an educator or counselor deal with this versus someone who’s been trained in law enforcement tactics,” Bacon told CBS 4.
The school district has 18 SROs between its middle and high schools. According to Chalkbeat Colorado, the city of Denver and Denver Public Schools split the cost of having these officers on campus. DPS paid $721,403 for the SROs last year.
THIS IS LEADERSHIP— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) June 6, 2020
VP Bacon and I are the only black school board members in Denver. With the help of so many grassroots organizations like @PJUnidos we have secured enough votes to end our contract with Denver Police! pic.twitter.com/x05uE3oSz2
We have over 225 schools in Denver and we have only 18 SRO’s. Majority of our schools have been functional without SRO’s. — THAT IS A FACT!— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) June 6, 2020
The board is slated to vote on the resolution next Thursday. In addition to ending its relationship with the Denver Police Department, the resolution would require Superintendent Susana Cordova to establish "an alternative safety plan" for the district, which is home to more than 200 schools and 92,000 students.
Stacey Collis, a 20-year SRO veteran and instructor for the National Association of School Resource Officers, said the school board is jumping to assumptions.
“They automatically assume, and they don’t have the understanding — they say, ‘Well, it’s a police officer in the school.’ They think they are going to stand at the corner with an AR-15 making sure hallways are safe. It’s not. It’s communicating with kids. It’s being on campus and talking with kids,” he told CBS 4.
Anderson took to Twitter to encourage surrounding school districts to follow DPS and abolish police officers in schools.
I am officially calling on every school district in Colorado to follow Denver’s lead and END Police in schools! pic.twitter.com/bX7pAmOAtI— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) June 6, 2020