CHICAGO (CBS)– Big changes could be in store for the program that oversees police officers in Chicago Public Schools.
Concerns about police officers in schools have increased in the past few months. Some say they’re needed for safety reasons and others argue they target minority students.
Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson announced changes to the School Resource Officer program.
In June, by a narrow vote of four to three, the Chicago Board of Education rejected a bid to remove Chicago police officers from dozens of schools.
Jackson said the district released new data highlighting an “80% reduction in arrests for students on school property since 2012.” She also said the rates of arrest among black students remains “unacceptably high,” and CPD is working to address the issue.
CPS released the following arrest data:
- African American: 78 percent reduction (2,433 to 526 ; from 1.45 per 100 students to 0.40)
- Latinx: 86 percent reduction (757 to 107 ; from 0.42 per 100 students to 0.06 )
- White: 85 percent reduction (109 to 16; from 0.31 per 100 students to 0.04)
“As part of our proposed inter-government agreement with with CPD as our roles will also be required to comply with the welcoming city and welcoming school ordinances that protect our students from discrimination and allow our undocumented students to feel safe and protected in our classrooms and hallways,” Jacksons said.
She said CPS and CPD agreed to prohibit SROs from entering any information into CPD criminal enterprise information system.
“We removed all of those CPD terminals from our schools, to ensure that SROs cannot access those databases on our campuses,” she said.
CPS will explicitly direct all complaints against SROs to COPA, Jackson said, so that they can be tracked reviewed and resolved in a “timely manner.”
Jackson said the reforms also include community partnerships as well as enlisting the support of the University of Chicago Crime and Education labs to help analyze the school based arrest data.
Lightfoot said these reforms also have significant necessary changes to the SRO hiring and training process.
“Principals will have the ability to directly participate in SRO interviews and reject or request candidates for consideration and candidates will undergo an extensive screening process, ensuring that their backgrounds are free of excessive force allegations and placing a premium on experiences working with young people in a learning environment,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot said 55, lSCs, have decided that they want to keep the SRO program and 17 schools have opted out. Lightfoot said these reforms serve as the next step is listening to the needs of the school community.
As an approach to safety, the CPD is working with the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children’s Hospital to train SROs with behavioral health teams. Officials said training will include fundamentals about the impact of exposure to trauma and violence.
Last week, CPS proposed a new $8.4 billion budget that would cut funding for police officers in schools in half.
There had been a $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department. But, the call to the defund police and concerns over their presence in schools led CPS to re-examine criteria for school resource officers and ultimately left it up to each school to decide whether to keep the officers.
More than a dozen schools have chosen to remove officers from schools, including Lincoln Park High School, Lane Tech, Mather and Northside College Prep.