CHICAGO (CBS) — Millions of tax dollars are at stake in the push to remove police officers from inside Chicago Public Schools.
But those who are pushing for the move say it’s about so much more, as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Tuesday.
The contract CPS has with the Police Department is set to expire at the end of August. Those behind the push to remove officers from schools say the $33 million CPS pays for CPD school officers can and should be used in a much more constructive way.
An ordinance to remove police officers from CPS is expected to be introduced at City Hall on Wednesday.
Their voices are getting louder every day.
“We do not need police in the schools,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th).
Some Chicago aldermen and community groups want Chicago Police officers out of the city’s public schools.
“They’re not there to protect us,” one man said. “They’re there to intimidate us.”
Dozens in favor of severing CPS’ ties with CPD spoke out in front of City Hall on Tuesday, a day before some aldermen plan to introduce an ordinance that would not only keep police officers out, but prevent CPS from ever entering into a contract with CPD again.
The “Police Free Schools Ordinance” would require CPD to terminate its $33 million contract to provide police officers as security at CPS buildings within 75 days.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said it is not an anti-police measure or an anti-security issue, but a student wellbeing issue.
Tracy Occomy-Crowder, deputy director of organizing and policy at Community Organizing and Family Issues, agreed.
“We are not saying get rid of security guards. We are saying, get rid of police presence, who are there to really address crime, which means arrest people,” she said.
Occomy-Crowder’s organization, known for short as COFI, collaborated on a 2017 study that shows having police officers in schools increases student anxiety and chances for arrest.
It shows most police security resource officers, or SRO’s, are in predominantly African-American and Latinx neighborhoods, where the majority of student arrests also occur.
“I don’t want to ever see no Black person go through something like that, because they’re misunderstood,” said CPS high school senior Caleb Reed.
Reed, a senior at Mather High School, said he was arrested at a basketball game as a sophomore for simply not having his ID. Activists said many students arrested in school even end up in a lockup at the Juvenile Intervention Support Center at Pershing Road and California Avenue.
A CPS representative said SRO’s are currently in 72 of CPS’ 93 high schools. Local school councils decide if they want to keep the officers, and all 72 LSC’s did this year.
But the activists who gathered Tuesday want that money to go to counselors, social workers, and nurses.
Occomy-Crowder believes LSC’s need more information.
“This idea of making the decision without full information, without back-and-forth, and whole conversation, is not a good idea,” she said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly been asked about removing police officers from schools in the past week. She has said she is against it, so even if it garners full City Council support, she would likely veto it.
The data on how many CPS students are arrested in CPS schools are hard to come by. CPS does not differentiate between student arrests by officers in school or outside of school.
But numbers do show there were 1,758 police notifications in the 2018-2019 school year.