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: