Mayor Lori Lightfoot stands firm on CPS' contract with CPD despite calls to defund department

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Protests demanding justice in the death of George Floyd have renewed a longtime controversy over the use of police in schools.

Chicago Public Schools has a $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department to provide school resource officers.

"Most the kids in my community that go to school feel like they're in prison," said CPS parent Dexter Leggin. "The first person they see in the door is a police officer, the last person is a police officer."

RELATED: Kanye West joins CPS students at South Side march demanding CPS cancel contract with CPD

Leggin is part of an organization called POWER-PAC. They're trying to end what they call the school-to-prison pipeline, in which school officers end up arresting students rather than administrators using alternatives, like restorative justice, to solve the situation.

"At the beginning and end of the day, he is a police officer. We can't change that relationship. If something does happen, he is bound by law to do what police do," said Lynn Morton, founder of POWER-PAC.

Currently, 72 out of 93, or 77%, of CPS high schools have school resources officers. Local school councils at all 72 voted to keep the officers this school year.

On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that for now, CPS has no plans to dump the contract with CPD.

"We are not going to do that, unfortunately we need security in our schools," the mayor said. "We spent a lot of time a year ago working through the challenges that we have seen with police officers in schools."

CPS and CPD have solicited feedback about the issue from the public, and surveyed the school community.

It's an ongoing conversation that will be reviewed next school year.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.