Cedar Rapids School Board discusses recommended changes to School Resource Officers

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Monday night, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team with the Cedar Rapids Community School District gave several recommendations to change the way School Resource Officers patrol school buildings, and where they should do so.

This came after the district took some time to review its relationship with the Cedar Rapids Police Department. Data showed that black students were having disproportionate interaction with school-based police officers compared to others students.

Removing the School Resource Officers from McKinley and Roosevelt Middle Schools was the most dramatic recommendation. Those two schools are some of the most ethnically and racially diverse. Data from the district shows over the past four years there’s an average of nearly 15 arrests at McKinley and nearly 12 per year at Roosevelt. The fewest arrests were at Harding, which had nearly four a year.

The diversity team is also recommending that SROs not wear their police uniforms to school. They would instead wear khaki pants and a polo shirt, but they’d still have their belt with their firearm on them.

The recommendations also included having parents present when an SRO is questioning a child about a potential crime, and limit arrests for first offenses to only the most serious offenses.

“It’s about compiling all the data, doing all the research, and coming up with recommendations that collectively help us make changes and our disciplinary changes to student behavior. One of those responses comes from SRO’s with arrests but also comes from us internally in our system and how we respond to students,”Deputy Superintendent Nicole Kooiker said.

Before the meeting, many from the community were able to make a public comment. Some said they wanted to replace SROs with trained therapists and counselors. Others said they wanted to keep SROs in these buildings because they felt safer with officers patrolling the schools where their children and their friends’ children go.

The board did not decide to adopt these recommendations Monday evening, but those decisions could come at a future meeting.

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