Brandon Johnson, the Democratic Mayor of Chicago, informed the press of his endorsement of a proposal aimed at eliminating police presence from schools within the locality.
The Chicago Board of Education suggested ending its $10.3 million agreement with the Chicago Police Department, a move backed by Mayor Johnson. WBEZ, a Chicago NPR affiliate, highlighted that almost all the board members who greenlit the contract with the Police Department have been substituted by new appointees selected by Johnson.
Johnson has a history of altering his stance regarding the presence of officers in schools. During his mayoral campaign, he opposed the idea of police being stationed at schools. However, once in office, he changed his position, suggesting that the decision about officers in schools should be made by local school councils.
Following the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in 2020, when the Chicago Teachers’ Union voiced opposition to having officers in schools, Johnson once again changed his stance.
Up until this year, Local School Councils, consisting of teachers, parents, and students, had the authority to decide whether to have school resource officers (SROs) present on school premises. However, the Chicago Board of Education stripped the councils of this power and is now aiming to eliminate all officers from schools.
Mark Grishaber, the principal of Taft High School, voiced apprehensions regarding the expulsion of SROs from school premises, citing a survey showing that 80-90% of students, teachers, and parents endorse the presence of officers in schools.
The National Police Association has contested this move, asserting that eliminating police officers, who serve as positive role models in schools and help reduce response times for incidents on school premises, will adversely impact students. Betsy Smith, a spokeswoman for the NPA, condemned Johnson for what she sees as his consistent demonization and vilification of law enforcement during his time in office.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, more than 40% of CPS high schools operate without any police visibility.