Chicago Removing Police From Schools. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

If you've been paying any attention at all to the news for the past couple of years, you've no doubt heard about the increased levels of crime and violence in Chicago, along with so many other large, blue cities. At the same time, we've seen a disturbing rise in school shootings and other criminal activity in our public schools, with the Windy City's public schools additionally being overrun by the children of illegal migrants. Rushing to the rescue this week was Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. His brilliant plan to address these concerns involves keeping a campaign promise he made while running for office. He's going to pull the police (school resource officers, or SROs) from Chicago's schools and find a "different, comprehensive whole school safety policy." Given the current conditions in the city, this idea is clearly far less popular than the mayor believes. (Washington Examiner)

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Chicago is advancing an effort to scrap a $10.3 million program that places police officers in Chicago Public Schools and direct their full removal by the 2024-2025 academic year.

Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson is backing a measure to remove school resource officers and find a different plan to “create a comprehensive whole school safety policy” without them. The new policy is being requested from Chicago Public Schools by June 27 for the Chicago Board of Education to tally a final vote.

“The pattern is the same in cities across the country — activists push to get rid of school resource officers. Parents, staff, and students disagree and voice their support to keep them,” Erika Sanzi, Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Education, told the Washington Examiner. “Obviously, a police officer assigned to a school needs to be the right fit and excel in de-escalation. But removing police from schools in areas where violence has soared seems like another example of putting ideology ahead of what’s best for students and communities.”

Keep in mind that this is the same Mayor who recently announced that Chicago would be pulling the ShotSpotter crime detection system out of the city at the end of a recent nine-month extension of the company's contract. The police unions objected to that as well, but the Mayor has turned a deaf ear toward them. At a time when crime is rising in all sectors, Johnson seems determined to do everything he can to stop anyone from preventing criminal activity.

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While Brandon Johnson is obviously listening to the leftist activists who supported his election, even the schools are not in favor of this move. Prior to the current school year, the city's school boards approved a renewal of a $10.3 million dollar contract with the Chicago PD to keep resource officers on school campuses. All of the schools were offered the opportunity to individually terminate the program, but only two of Chicago's 40 public school districts opted to do so. Now the option would be removed from them under Johnson's plan.

This isn't a done deal yet, however. The mayor's plan remains a "proposal" rather than a law. The Chicago Department of Education will be holding a vote on the matter next month and they could still override the idea. Some schools still support the idea of eliminating police on campus and they will almost certainly be allowed to do so. But the board could easily allow the contract with the Chicago PD to be renewed in the interest of student safety.

The Chicago Principals & Administrators Association opposes the plan also. They argue that SROs have the opportunity to build relationships with students and teachers on a daily basis, developing trust and cooperation. There will always be incidents of violence and other problems at the city's public schools, requiring the police to be summoned. But rather than relying on an SRO who is already on the scene, the school will need to dial 911 and rely on "the luck of the draw" in terms of which police officers will respond. This will lead to longer response times and potentially generate more apprehension among students who will suddenly see an officer they have no relationship with showing up on campus, perhaps with weapons drawn.

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All of this is yet another example of Mayor Johnson being a liberal holdover from the "defund the police" movement. It was a terrible idea when it started as we predicted here repeatedly. But today, particularly in cities like Chicago that are being crushed by rampant crime and illegal migration, it's nothing short of a disaster. Johnson ran against an opponent who was a former police officer and was supported by the Chicago police union. The voters narrowly chose Johnson and now they are reaping the "reward" of that decision. Perhaps they will think better of it when his first term is up. 

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024
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