August 2011
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Police union decries ‘diminished authority’ of D150 campus police officers

From my inbox:

Dear Friends of District 150 Campus Police & District 150 Union Leaders:

On July 25, 2011 the Peoria District 150 School Board passed a policy which jeopardizes the safety of every student, teacher, and staff member in District 150. Policy 5:400, strips the Campus Police Officers of their authority to make arrests, break up fights or effectively do their job. Our Union needs your support and assistance to express to the school board members and administration the seriousness of their decision and how this will place the children’s safety, and your own safety, in jeopardy.

In the last couple of days there have been several articles published in the Peoria Journal Star pertaining to this change. The articles addressed the prohibition of the District 150 Officers carrying their firearm off duty, and changing the officers title. Additionally, the policy removes their authority and ability to arrest, which has not been widely reported. This is the most important part of the policy.

Under the new policy, School Resource Officers can detain subjects only without “the use of material mechanical devices” (handcuffs) and only after consulting a supervisor. I don’t know about you – but with the fights that I have observed at Peoria 150 the ole “Please quit fighting and come with me” routine doesn’t work well. A police officer has to take control of these situations. Sometimes police work isn’t pretty – but order is restored and the school does what it is supposed to do – provide an education. Students, who have lost respect for the educational environment and who cause major disruptions, do not respond to “please” and “just come with me.” Unfortunately, sometimes they have to be arrested, and that requires police officers.

Has the Board of Education forgot that in 2005 a 16 year old student came into Woodruff High School and shot at another student several times? During that incident a cat and mouse chase continued through several floors of Woodruff HS as students were running outside, running into classrooms and ducking for cover, all while shots were fired in a school filled with kids. The school district cannot say “I hope nothing like that happens here” as if they have only seen it on television. It did happen here! It can and will happen again! The difference is now there will be no police in the schools to respond. Because of the actions of the Board of Education, police are being removed from the schools. The officers that remain are being stripped of the authority to arrest.

District 150 Police have been on the front lines of school safety since 1971. Over the years the demand for services has increased, with the busiest year being the 2010-2011 school year. As Union leaders we are charged with protecting the safety of our members. Actions by the Board of Education have placed every teacher, custodian, administrator, teacher’s aide, secretary, and home school facilitator in jeopardy.

I urge each one of you to contact each school board member and oppose any action that would diminish the authority of the campus police department and urge them to improve the safety in the learning environment. Ask them – If a kid doesn’t feel safe in a school, how is he going to learn? If you remove the police from Peoria Public Schools, how are schools any safer?

Sincerely – Kasey Groenewold, Campus Police Union President

Kasey Groenewold, Labor Representative
Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee

The Journal Star’s article on the policy change is here. They report that the vote for this new policy was unanimous, except for Laura Petelle who was absent from the meeting, and that it takes effect August 15. Their reasoning? They said part of it had to do with “liability,” but most of it is touchy-feely, as you can see from these quotes from recently-reelected board member Debbie Wolfmeyer, as reported by the Journal Star:

“There is no need for (officers) to carry their weapons when they’re off duty,” board President Debbie Wolfmeyer said.

The officers’ job titles also were changed. Henceforth, they will be known as “school resource officers.” […]

“From my own perspective, we’re looking for a more student-friendly type of culture from the officers,” Wolfmeyer said. “The board is looking for employees to not only take control of a situation and keep our children safe but also to work with our children rather than just physically detaining them or making arrests.

“We’re more for a culture of trying to work things out with kids.”

All together now: Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah . . . .

Interestingly, this goes against the advice of some experts. For instance, a 2001 article in the American School Board Journal said, “The decision to disarm a qualified officer generally lowers the law enforcement standard and places students and others at higher risk. As a result, the exposure to liability could increase both for the district and for those who made that decision.”

I think the new policy sounds perfect for any school with a gang problem . . . so long as this is the gang:

82 comments to Police union decries ‘diminished authority’ of D150 campus police officers

  • Sharon Crews

    Isn’t it possible that not allowing handcuffs will force officers to pull their guns because they can’t restrain a student wild with rage? I have seen those students–no one without the ability and strength to restrain them will want to go near–except maybe Wolfmeyer. 🙂

  • Leave the babies alone

    Leave those babies alone they aren’t bothering anybody. You can drive through any urban Peoria neighborhood and you will never see any juvenile criminal activity it is perfectly safe. I’ll bet even EmergePeoria would feel safe walking down Star & Griswold at about 1 am in the morning. Emerge you are a Kool-aid sipper and you can’t even honestly agree with that previous statement.

    Those same juveniles who don’t break any laws on the street are the same ones that are perfect students who are just being persecuted by the mean evil po-po. Hardly a curse word is ever uttered out of their little pure mouths.

    The only people that believe that drivel are the ones that are driving our society off the cliff.

  • Sharon Crews

    Leave the babies alone–I don’t think you read Emerge’s comments carefully enough. She has problems in her own neighborhood–she is well aware of and bothered by these young people. All she said above was that if they were arrested for their behaviors on the streets, they wouldn’t be showing up for school. I disagreed only to the extent that I believe that it is the court system that sends kids on probation back into the classrooms. I think the police get tired of arresting kids because they’re just back doing the same things in no time.

  • EmergePeoria

    Thanks Sharon. However, I really didn’t think the comment by Leave the babies alone was worth a response. It was not based in reality, therefore, I considered it drivel.

  • Leave the babies alone

    Emerge and her like minded thinkers refuse to grasp the reality that the only ones that are taking the civil rights from her and her friends are the lawless individuals whom she and others insist on protecting.

    Emerge is a member of the ones that believe it is perfectly okay to sacrifice the children who want to learn in order to “save” the ones who persist in committing criminal acts within the schools.

  • Leave the babies alone

    Sharon, if Emerge is saying that the lawless individuals aren’t being handled properly by the city police then why wouldn’t she support the campus police who are trying to do the right thing in the schools?

    I suggest Emerge try to FOI actual police reports of criminal activity in D150 schools. I think she might be surprised to see those statistics.

  • Sharon Crews

    I know, Emerge, it might not be worth the effort. If you would read Emerge’s blog, you would find that she gives us reports of criminal activity that never appear in the PJS–she gets the info from a scanner and she does FOIA–not sure about police reports. She wouldn’t be surprised by the statistics of criminal activity in District 150 because I sent her my data of just that–in response to her request. Emerge’s comments might be confusing to you because she does present both sides of these issues–most just see one side (their own). Besides that, she and C.J. provide all of us the opportunity to express our own views–even disagree with them on their own blogs.

  • Just asking

    So Sharon, when did you become Emerge’s designated spokesperson? It is really annoying.

  • Just asking

    Emerge and her like minded thinkers refuse to grasp the reality that the only ones that are taking the civil rights from her and her friends are the lawless individuals whom she and others insist on protecting.

    By the way, this is quite possibly one of the most insightful comments I have ever read on this blog.

  • Sharon Crews

    Just asking–Just asking why it is annoying to you? Is it a requirement that everyone on blogs be adversaries? I believe others often defend other bloggers or their points of view. Do they all annoy you or is this a special cause of irritation to you? As anyone who follows the blogs knows, Emerge and I do not always agree–often disagree, in fact, especially on subtle points. However, that doesn’t mean we are adversaries. I think we have many common goals and ideals.

  • Just asking

    Just asking–Just asking why it is annoying to you?

    Because it is so chronic. I would prefer to see Emerge back up her own positions. She is capable of it, isn’t she?

  • You wanna play with

    Emerge, Just asking, but she won’t give you the time of day… awww. poor thang. LOL

  • “Emerge and her like minded thinkers refuse to grasp the reality that the only ones that are taking the civil rights from her and her friends are the lawless individuals whom she and others insist on protecting.”

    I got to agree. Now our Campus Police are going to give these kids candy to behave. District 150 employees have to take a course on how to respect and handle these thugs (one course is this Thursday at Glen Oak School) because heaven forbid these are just mis-understood children. Some armed but mis-understood non the less. It always not the truth when someone reports a huge group of youths yelling slurs and damaging property. These kids were simply venting getting out of a party. It’s always someone else’s fault for their problems. After all they come from poor single parent families. It’s always someone else’s fault and we should provide a program for these mis directed youths. Never ever hold the parent or parents (if you can find the other) responsible. The section 8 housing is in shambles but it’s the admin of the PHA’s fault. They simply don’t pick up after us. The fact that we have to have armed police in schools should be the alarm bell for everyone in society. They don’t even have armed police in prisons but we have them in our schools and even the middle and primary schools because 9 year old 4th grader can and will pull a knife on you. There shouldn’t even be a conversation about police being armed but society has bottomed out in certain segments because generation after generation have grown up with entitlements expecting and now demanding a place to live, free cell phones, free lunches, free busing, reduced or free books for school, and now we have to have programs in place to offer a sensitive side because that teacher that got punched in the mouth by a mis-understood student? But hey, we can have all the black pastors, in their $200 suits rally at a public housing project and demand peace. Then there are the programs that have been in place for what? 30 years or more. Head Start. Early Childhood. Nothing has come from those programs except glorified baby sitting. Student quality by starting kids as early as 3 yrs old has not improved as anyone can see by visiting any high school. Just a place to justify jobs for those in charge. Yes some make it but compared to the population, very few do and the return on these programs should be much higher but then you are competing with Fifty Cent and easy money from crack sales. Young girls think it’s great to be pregnant by 16 and have that cute baby until the baby gets old, like 3 yrs old and then it cramps their style. So off to the grandmother the baby goes. The father is never held responsible nor the girl that had the baby. Who pays the hospital bill for the birth? Anyone who works and holds down a job does. They don’t care because it’s public aid and I’m entitled.

    So now the District Police are going to have to kiss ass this year. These kids don’t respect the law, only the law of the gang. These schools are going to be a war zone this year and I won’t blame teachers and staff leaving the district. The animals have taken control of the zoo and we are paying a person 6 figures a year to coddle these animals. Sad.

  • Sharon Crews

    Just for the record, I am definitely opposed to the changes in policy for campus police–and I said so at last night’s board meeting. Three of us said so. You see this is the problem; District 150 board members are totally oblivious to any opposition because no one comes to meetings. Whenever the police anywhere are involved, there is always a chance that someone will be treated unfairly–but we don’t get rid of the police because of that chance. As I just stated on Emerge’s blogs, there are plenty of safeguards in place–and probably way too many loopholes–to keep students in District 150 from being punished unfairly. I am afraid I have to agree that the number who get away with behavior that warrants punishment far exceeds those who are punished unfairly.

    I do have to say that no matter what Emerge states on her blog–it is just her opinion. Her own children behave, so she isn’t responsible for all the others. And her words alone don’t protect these kids. The same goes for most of us. We are just expressing our opinions–and none of us need to be disrespectful of the other. Emerge and Emtronics sometimes seem to be far apart, yet I believe the three of us can and have often found plenty to agree on.

    One thing is for certain if we really want to solve these urban problems we have to learn to talk to one another and, at least, give respect to the opinions of others. I firmly believe that Emerge and Emtronics aren’t just sitting on the sidelines and both have a strong desire to see a better city and a better District 150. However, first and foremost, they have both done what is the ultimate solution for most of the problems–they raised their own children to be good citizens.

  • checking for details.

    Not a failed school district. Failed parents.

  • teachingrocks

    Emtronics: SPOT ON

    Several times last year, a misbehaving child was taken from my room because of a referral–things like hitting others, cursing, leaving the classroom, kicking a wall, throwing books or chairs, etc. These students were taken to the office, spoken to regarding why they were acting this way, and returned to the classroom. Many times the student came back with a special sticker, pen, or promise of a visit with another teacher if he/she would just behave for a few hours. There was NO punishment and many times I was given an “explanation” regarding why the student was acting out and how I should understand. This was done in front of the student and rest of the class. I had already put up with several incidents of misbehavior before even writing the referral. After the referral, “meeting”, and return, would you care to guess how the returning student behaved? How about the rest of the class? The student who had the referral continued to misbehave and it was expected of me to “just deal with it” or “keep them in the classroom, no matter what”. There is NO punishment. There wasn’t even an acknowledgement that something wrong had been done–unless it was a wrong done by me for not understanding the reasons behind the attack on another student, the theft of property, the destruction of property, the yelling at the teacher.

    I am surprised at the astonishment of people when these kids hit the street and feel they can do whatever they want. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they are taught in school.

  • Sharon Crews

    As I said at Monday’s board meeting, sugar-coated incentives don’t work–and those are District 150’s cure for discipline problems.

  • cttsp5

    teachingrocks, I’m sure you’ve heard like all of us that the student is returned to the class room and he laughs and says, see I told you nothing would be done. Students act out and also say “so what, you will just send me to the office and I will be back:, so therefore 10 or more leave during the class periods to roam the halls on the pretext of going to the restroom because they can do it without any consequences, so what is a few minutes in the office for such an offense.

  • Sharon Crews

    That was certainly happening to me from 2000-2005 at Manual, so I don’t expect things have changed for the better. My only salvation was that I was close to retirement and I could be a bit more insistent about returning kids who continued to misbehave. Now that the new rules will allow tenured teachers to forever be on guard to protect their jobs, things will probably get much worse. Teachers banding together can fight all this–teachers alone can do nothing.

  • Adkins-Dutro

    I fully intend to pull out my cell phone and call 911 every time I see a fight.

  • What a mess we have

    AMEN AMEN AMEN to Emtronics!!!!!

    If any one truly listens to Lathan you will hear the message that the
    children are failing because we aren’t doing enough for them and it is the
    EMPLOYEES fault that these children aren’t progressing. Have I missed it in
    any of her speeches where she is going to insist that we raise the bar for the students to put forth more effort?????? No, I think that all I have heard her say is that the employee isn’t doing enough and if the employee “doesn’t fit” then that employee should move on.

    As Emtronics was saying, we provide darn near everything you could imagine for those children and their “parents” yet it is never enough. Lathan is a subscriber to
    the belief that the gainfully employed segment of our society still isn’t doing enough for the poor misunderstood special rights people.

  • Simply put: Our schools should expect students to show up clean, clothed properly, with school supplies needed and an attitude to learn. As it stands now, we are going to reward them just for showing up and acting civil? It’s all ass backwards.

    Watch and see….. We will be paying Lathan to move on and we’ll be damn lucky if she doesn’t sue us in the process. This is another do nothing, show the flash card to the public kind of 6 figure a year bureaucrat we don’t need.

    I can fix the schools. I’d lock them up and kick them all out if they didn’t conform to the rules and/or broke the laws. I don’t care if that meant only a 100 kids were left at PHS. At least that 100 would get an education in a safe environment and that’s not what is happening now nor in the past.

  • What a mess we have

    I’m not sure why Lathan would want to move on considering the incredible yearly salary that she gets not to mention the $10,000 bonuses she is eligible for even though she is already being paid to do her job. Has anyone seen her offer bonuses to other employees? The only offer she is making to employees is that if you don’t always agree with me then leave the district. Let me make this point clear, I don’t think ANYONE should get a bonus for doing the job that you are already being paid to do.

    She has absolutely zero opposition from the BOE on any topic and whatever she tells them they believe without question. Although when her reign does finally come to an end she, along with other community “leaders” will say that she didn’t have the BOE’s support and that is why she failed.

  • Sharon Crews

    The Attorney General just nudged District 150 into providing the birthdates of 17 of last year’s Lincoln 7th graders who have been allowed to skip 8th grade and are now in high school. Fifteen of these students were only one year behind. My big question, of course, is why, in, the first place, and secondly what about all the other kids in 150 who have failed a grade but have not been offered such an opportunity?

  • tommy

    Obvious answer, Ms Crews. Dr Lathan’s friend is the principal at Lincoln. Lathan’s friends from NC get special favors and much higher salaries than the little ol Peoria natives. You know Grenita is sooooo smooth she can pull anything over on us here in Central Illinois.

  • Sharon Crews

    Tommy, yes, I know that North Carolina favors abound. I can understand Dr. Lathan taking advantage of the situation to do favors for friends, but I don’t understand the District 150 board allowing it. I am not naive; I know that superintendents have always done favors for their friends. It’s just that Dr. Lathan has so many from out of town whose loyalty is not to District 150 families and kids. If they stay long enough that could happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  • What a mess we have

    “but I don’t understand the District 150 board allowing it. ”

    Really, Sharon???

  • Sharon Crews

    Really, I don’t understand a board giving a superintendent this much power. However, I do understand that this particular board seems to believe they are making the right decisions.

  • District Watcher

    As much as it hurts to agree with Mike Bailey, he was spot on when he said this today in an editorial (although we’ve been saying the same thing for years!):

    As always, countless calories will be burned by those flapping their tongues about “school reform,” as they have for 30 years, which usually translates into changes to teacher tenure or a union’s ability to strike or more charter schools or some other play at the margins. But nary a one of them will go to the heart of the matter and mention “parental reform.”

  • Sharon Crews

    Haven’t we all spoken to the issue of parental responsibility? We all know that many of the school problems are due to problems beyond the control of schools. The only problem is that nobody, including Mike Bailey, has offered any sure-fire ways to fix these societal problems.

  • No brainer

    Simple. You tie in entitlements with specific requirements. Kids have to be in school. On time. Homework done. Parents must attend conferences. If the conditions are not met, no more entitlements. Period. No exceptions. If they can’t take care of their kids – they lose their kids. Only reason this is not being done is because of the spineless sissies we have for legislators. These non-parents are destroying our country, and no one has the balls to stop them. Worse – they are encouraged to reproduce. We are surely doomed. Where is Emerge? Emerge logging in and saying how heartless and insensitve it is to want to stop allowing parents to doom their kids to a life of violence and poverty in 10 – 9 – 8 -7…