DC council may look to keep police in schools after increase in crime

The D.C. council may reverse course on plans to remove police officers from public and charter schools as violence and crime increases.

Councilmembers Trayon White, Vincent Gray, Brooke Pinto and Chairman Phil Mendelson sponsored the “Safe Schools and Students Amendment Act of 2023.” It would repeal the plan, initially approved by the council two year ago to remove all D.C. police from schools by 2025.

The plan is to gradually reduce the number of school resource officers in public and charter schools from 60 personnel as of July 1, 2022, to 40 personnel in July of this year, then 20 personnel by 2024, ending the program altogether by 2025.

The highly contested plan to remove SROs was passed in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. It was also based on the recommendations from city’s Police Reform Commission.

“School leaders want SROs and so do parents of schoolchildren,” wrote Gray in a statement on Twitter. “I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and act on it as quickly as possible.”

Pinto spoke about the new legislation during a roundtable on violence in the city Friday saying that there is usually not a day when someone approaches her to urge her to keep SROs in D.C. schools.

“When there are weapons brought to school, and teachers being harmed, and young people being shot at and there are no officers available to assist. That is not fair to put on teachers,” Pinto said. That is a burden too high to ask our teachers to take on. They’re doing such important work.”

Supporters of D.C. police removal from public and charter schools have argued that school resource officers are not effective and contribute to a school to prison pipeline.

“Reliance of policing for safety is simply ineffective, inefficient and poor policy making that ignores the root causes of violence in our communities,” tweeted the Black Swan Academy, a non-profit focused on empowering Black youth.

D.C. isn’t the only jurisdiction reviewing its decision to completely remove SROs.

The city of Alexandria, Virginia, is reviewing a report by an advisory group to determine the future of the School Resource Officer program in its schools. The city council and school system moved away from the SRO program in 2021.

The D.C. bill will be referred to the council’s Committee of the Whole next week.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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