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1A Across America: Do School Resource Officers Actually Keep Kids Safe?

School resource officer, John Pence poses at Sidney High School in Ohio in 2019. School districts around the country are ending or reexamining their contracts with local police departments in the wake of George's Floyd's killing.
School resource officer, John Pence poses at Sidney High School in Ohio in 2019. School districts around the country are ending or reexamining their contracts with local police departments in the wake of George's Floyd's killing.

In early June, the Minneapolis Public Schools ended their contract with the city’s police after the killing of George Floyd.

From the Star Tribune:

“I value people and education and life,” school board chairwoman Kim Ellison said in an interview. “Now I’m convinced, based on the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department, that we don’t have the same values.”

“I firmly believe that it is completely unnatural to have police in schools,” school board member Kimberly Caprini said during the meeting.

Now, more and more schools are reexamining their contracts with local police departments. Advocates say that resource officers can help make schools safer places. But critics argue that children — especially those who are Black and Brown — are especially at risk for punishment. Here’s what one student told The New York Times.

Nadera Powell, 17, said seeing officers in the hallways at Venice High School in Los Angeles sent a clear message to black students like her: “Don’t get too comfortable, regardless of whether this school is your second home. We have you on watch. We are able to take legal or even physical action against you.”

What makes schools safe? Can school systems reform the role of school resource officers? Or is it better for students to cut ties completely?

1A Across America  is funded through a grant from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 that is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting.

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