CPS officials discuss role of school resource officers amid calls to remove police from campuses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three Chicago aldermen introduced an ordinance last week seeking to remove Chicago police officers from Chicago Public Schools. It comes amid rising scrutiny and backlash against police in many cities across the country.

The ordinance was introduced by Aldermen Roderick Sawyer, Jeanette Taylor and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. Alderman Sawyer spoke last Tuesday about the proposal to terminate the agreement between CPD and CPS alongside a group of parents and social workers.

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CPS officials, including CEO Janice Jackson, discuss the importance of school resource officers.

"It's not working, so why do we keep beating a dead horse and thinking it's gonna have better results. Let's get rid of it. Let's re-evaluate what we need to do to secure our children but more importantly, to educate and enlighten our children."

The ordinance would also prohibit the city and the police superintendent from entering into any future school security agreements with CPS.

Caleb Reed with Voices of Youth In Chicago Education, also known as VOYCE, said officers don't have the proper training.

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At City Hall, demonstrators called for an end to the $33 million contract that pays for school resource officers as some aldermen pushed for an ordinance to make that happen.

"My sophomore year, I got arrested for attending a basketball game because I didn't have my ID," Reed said. "It's wrong of course. I was angry. I was confused but to prevent that from happening, we need police out of the schools."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said earlier this month that she is not in favor of taking police out of schools and that there has been a good track record this year.

"Unfortunately, we need security in our schools," Lightfoot said. "We spent a lot of time a year ago working through challenges that we had seen with police officers in schools."

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that for now, Chicago Public Schools has no plans to dump its $33 million contract with Chicago police.

Supporters ramped up their push to eliminate the contract between the public schools and Chicago Police Tuesday.

At City Hall, demonstrators called for an end to the $33 million contract that pays for school resource officers as some aldermen pushed for an ordinance to make that happen.

"We want our police officers around the schools, we don't want them in the schools," Ald. Sawyer said.

"We're asking for that money to be used for nurses counselors and case managers, we do not need police in the schools," said Ald. Taylor.

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The students want CPS to cancel its $33 million contract with CPD and reinvest that money in their schools.

The decision on whether to have school resource officers, who are only in high schools, lies with the principal and the local school councils.

According to Chicago Public Schools, More than three-quarters of all high schools (77%) run by CPS currently have school resource officers and all 72 of those schools voted to keep their officers last year.

15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez said with gangs actively recruiting students in some schools, there are legitimate safety concerns making properly trained officers a valuable asset.

"To simply say that we will call the police if something happens in a school setting is just not based on reality," Ald. Lopez said.

Lopez said local school councils should have the final say.

"They deserve to have the opportunity to decide locally if police should be in their schools or not. It should not be some politician's decision from the other side of the city of Chicago," he added.

The stage now could be set for some fireworks in the city council.

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"Any elected official who doesn't agree that police needs to be out of school doesn't deserve to serve the citizens of Chicago," Ald. Taylor said.

Chicago Public Schools and Chicago police have both solicited public feedback on the issue of resource officers in schools, and those efforts will continue between now and the start of school in the fall.

Chicago police currently have a $33 million agreement with CPS. The city would have 75 days to terminate the agreement if the ordinance passes.
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