Chicago Police Department school resource officers will not be present at the city’s newly reopened high schools for the rest of the school year, Chicago Public Schools announced as it aims to provide a “more holistic approach to school safety.”
While schools will continue to have the option to participate in the School Resource Officer program during the 2021-22 school year, the decision to halt the program this spring follows months of gathering feedback from the community, Jadine Chou, CPS chief of safety and security, said in a letter to district families.
“With less than two months remaining in the school year and reduced daily in-person attendance, we feel that the presence of full-time SROs is not necessary at this time,” Chou said.
“Please be assured that the safety of your children remains our top priority, and we are confident that your school has the necessary staff in place to safely support the limited number of students who have returned to learn in person,” Chou said, adding: “Every CPS school deserves a comprehensive safety plan that is unique to the needs of their community, and our job is to put a plan in place that will make every student feel safe, valued, and supported.”
CPS is still working with the city’s police department “to ensure our school buildings receive attention from police officers in the neighborhood, particularly during high traffic times like dismissal,” Chou added.
With high schools opening just a week ago for the first time since March 2020, no school police officers have been working in CPS this school year, with the exception of 22 sergeants assigned to the district, according to a CPS spokesperson.
That means the district, which previously said it wouldn’t have to pay for school-based officers during remote learning, won’t incur any costs related to the officers. While the district expects to pay CPD for the sergeants, CPS and CPD will need determine the amount based on the level of support the sergeants provide, according to the spokesperson.
The police murder of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis amplified calls to remove CPD officers from CPS schools. The Chicago Board of Education also cut its spending on school policing last year, in part because of the pandemic, and more than a dozen Local School Councils voted out their schools’ resource officers. CPS leaders also said they were looking at plans that could involve phasing out the officers altogether.
©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.