School police reform: A call to remove police from school campuses

Education

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — State Superintendent Tony Thurmond spoke with state lawmakers on the effects of police programs on school campuses Tuesday.

“We got to do this together there is no easy answer,” said Thurmond.

During the round table discussion, Thurmond said it’s time to look at how public schools are policed and if it’s time to change that.

One local non-profit, Fresno Barrios Unidos said they have been asking to get rid of police on school campuses for years and is happy this is being talked about. 

Efrain Botello is the Program Assistant with Fresno Barrios Unidos. He said to see this topic getting local and national attention is a good thing. 

“To see that now it is coming to light and folks like Thurmond are speaking out on it is encouraging and a step in the right direction,” said Botello. 

Botello said the examination into this topic is needed and instead of schools paying for police officers school districts need to redistribute their funds and hire more counselors. 

“With administrators they get a student in trouble and they refer to the police officers as a scare tactic which is why the arrest rates have been up which is why the suspensions have been up,” said Botello. 

During Thurmond’s Presser studies from the learning policy institute were presented. They showed suspensions, expulsions, and arrest of children were higher in schools with police presence. 

But, the head of the Fresno Police Officers Association, Todd Fraizer, said officers play an important role.  

“Believe it or not police officers are still well thought about out there among our young people and they are still highly looked up to,” said Fraizer.

Fraizer said many police officers are coaches, mentors, and even counselors for these students. Fraizer said eliminating officers from schools could do more harm than good. 

“Having that presence on campus is a deterrent in it of itself. Just parking a police car out in front and a potential shooter or someone who wants to do ill on that campus goes down just having a presence of an officer,” said Fraizer. 

Tony Thurmond is working with his task force to come up with guidelines for policing public schools and will hold another discussion next week. 

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