Los Angeles Slashes Number of School Police Amid National Debate
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will slash the number of police officers patrolling hallways in the nation’s second-largest school district by a third.
The New York Times reported that the LAUSD school board approved a plan on Tuesday to eliminate 70 sworn officers, 62 non-sworn officers, and one support staff member. The school district will shift $25 million to fund support services for black students. Officers at secondary schools in L.A. will be replaced with “climate coaches” to mentor students and resolve conflicts. The plan will also ban the use of pepper spray against students.
The move follows months of pressure from activists and students to reduce the number of police in Los Angeles schools. During the summer of 2020, as protests over the police killing of George Floyd swept through major U.S. cities, many school districts began reconsidering their use of school resource officers (SROs). The LAUSD already cut its school police budget by a third last June.
Civil liberties groups and disability advocates have long argued that increases in school police and zero tolerance policies for petty disturbances have fueled the “school-to-prison” pipeline and led to disproportionate enforcement against minorities and students with disabilities.
“Investments and behaviors must be different if we want outcomes to be different,” LAUSD board member Mónica García said in a statement. “Black students, parents, teachers and allies have demanded that we interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Organizations like the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) argue that carefully selected, well-trained officers actually act as a filter and decrease arrests by building strong relationships within the school with staff and students.
So far, San Francisco is the largest school district to
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