To the Editor:
After a school board decision on Sept. 1, Hopkins Schools will end their relationship with the Minnetonka Police, and will no longer have a school resource officer at the high school. In coming to this decision, the board enlisted students to do vast research on the topic and asked for public comment on the issue. I have full faith that the school board members did their due diligence on the topic prior to the vote.
As for the decision itself, having an officer in the schools inherently makes it more likely to keep the school to prison pipeline in motion. The simple fact is that kids are going to fight. When that happens, you teach them to use non-violent means to settle a dispute. You don’t arrest them for assault. If a child is having issues with drug use, you seek treatment and counseling measures rather than arresting them for possession. If there is ever an emergency situation at the school, the police can be there within minutes.
Further, this is an equity issue. Growing up, I was told that police are there to protect us, and that we should respect them. I know that there are plenty of kids from other backgrounds than my own who receive a very different conversation from the one I got. Children of color are more likely to be arrested than white children, who many times receive a slap on the wrist. Is there any reason to believe that what we see in policing the general public should be any different than what we expect from policing in our schools?
Finally, our schools are already underfunded and the police are overfunded. When teachers need to use their own money to buy classroom supplies, and police are able to afford the best tech on the market, there is a problem with the apportionment of assets. There is no reason that the police should be charging the district six figures to position one officer at one school. The district’s money will be put to better use by increasing supports and services for students.