Chicago SRO Budget Reduced Significantly
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- August 24, 2020
You better sit down for this. Chicago Public School have voted to “trim” the budget for school resource officers on city K-12 campuses. By more than half, the budget has been sliced from $33 million to $15 million.
The budget barely passed but it is official now.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson announced on Wednesday that in addition to budget cuts, the program will also face significant reforms. “I understand the concerns and questions that many have surrounding policing, particularly when it involves our youth,” Lightfoot said during a press conference. “We have heard you, and we have taken major steps to respond.”
Officials for Chicago Public Schools have voted to significantly reduce the budget for school resource officers.
In order to be hired as an SRO, officers cannot have had any excessive force complaints over the past five years, and cannot have a history of verbally or physically assaulting students.
“Candidates will undergo an extensive screening process ensuring their backgrounds are free of excessive force allegations and placing a premium on experiences working with young people,” Lightfoot told reporters.
An SRO cannot be working with federal immigration agents while on duty, and they cannot enter a students’ information into the city’s “gang database,” and cannot access that database while on campus. Complaints against officers will be sent to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, according to Jackson.
Recent protests nationwide, including Chicago, saw protesters arguing that law enforcement should be removed from schools. Some students have expressed personal opinions that SROs watch them walk through the hallways and act as if they are criminals. Those same students said that officers should be replaced with social workers instead.
CPS campuses still have the right to determine if they want SROs on campus. As many as 17 schools have elected to removed the officers, while 55 campuses have chosen to law enforcement to remain. Two of the schools that have elected to relieve officers on campus include Mather High School and Roberto Clemente Career Academy.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.