KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – Exactly what is it that children need to thrive? The ACLU says multiple studies show police officers in the school setting are not one of them.
The ACLU of Missouri is urging area schools to reconsider school resource officers.
“So what the studies show is that police presence in schools negatively impact school climate. They feel distrust and anxiety among students and contribute to the school to prison pipeline. We see that more SRO’s in schools correlates directly with the enrollment of black and brown students, not violence,” ACLU of Missouri Luz Maria Henríquez said.
Henríquez says the ACLU wants to see the money used to staff officers instead go toward adding more social workers, counselors and nurses.
She says in the state of Missouri, for every 328 students, there is one counselor. For every 488 students, there is one nurse, and there is only one social worker for well over 2,000 students.
Mac Hardy is with the National Association of School Resource Officers and says those officers are specially trained not just to be there when things get out of hand, but to try and prevent things from getting out of hand to begin with.
“We’re trying to help the students that are in these stressful times trying to get them help before they take a step and try to hurt themselves and hurt others along the way,” Hardy said.
Parents KCTV5 News talked to say they like the idea of having more counselors on hand but aren’t sure if giving police the boot completely is the answer either.
“I think both are needed. I think with resource officers there comes a time where social workers cannot do what a police officer can do and vice versa or a police officer may not be able to do what a social worker can do, so I would like to see a balance,” parent Mulenga Chen said.
Several cities including Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Boston, New York and Chicago are all seriously considering ending their SRO programs as well.
It is a topic of conversation that’s just starting in the metro as well.