Chicago’s Push To Remove Cops From Schools Draws Backlash

"They told me there’s going to be no SROs."

A push to remove police officers from Chicago’s public schools is drawing backlash from school principals.

Principals, as well as a Chicago city council members, say the Chicago Board of Education is considering removing school resource officers from public schools.

Alderman Nicholas Sposato said his school system sources revealed that the school board could make the decision as soon as its next meeting on January 25, according to Nadig Newspapers, a local paper covering Chicago’s Northwest Side that first reported the news.

“They told me there’s going to be no SROs,” Sposato told the outlet, calling it a “terrible idea.”

This would mean Chicago Public Schools this summer would not renew its $10.3 million contract with the city to have police officers at schools.

The decision could potentially take effect in the fall, Sposato said.

A December 15 meeting between principals and the city’s school board did not go the way the principals expected, according to Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association.

Principals were told they would be able to give their input on the school resource officer decision, but they did not get that chance, LaRaviere told CBS News Chicago.

“They were told that the board had made a unilateral decision, without the input of the people who actually run the schools,” LaRaviere said.

Before the current school year, 40 high schools voted on whether to keep police officers in their schools. All but one voted to keep officers on campus.

Some of the high schools chose to get rid of one of their two officers, however. The schools that chose to remove one or both officers received about $3.7 million for “alternative safety interventions.”

LaRaviere explained that school resource officers build relationships with the students, which is helpful when an incident occurs.“If you don’t have an SRO, what are you supposed to do? You don’t have the SRO with the relationships. You have to call 911. And then you have to get the luck of the draw,” LaRaviere told the outlet. “Cops with no relationships with the children show up.”

Mark Grishaber, the principal of William Howard Taft High School in north Chicago, said his school’s resource officers “know half the kids by their first name” and are often able to deescalate situations.

“The SRO has been trained and knows how to deal with teens in a school community,” Grishaber told Nadig Newspapers. “You can see the difference.”

The move to remove police from schools echoes remarks Chicago’s mayor made when he was running for office.

Mayor Brandon Johnson said at the time that “armed officers have no place in schools in communities already struggling with over-incarceration, criminalization, profiling and mistrust.”

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