school resource officers police security safety MGN

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is urging school districts to remove police officers from schools.

St. Louis Public Radio reports that the ACLU has circulated a letter to nine school administrators so far, mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. The ACLU says money spent on school resource officers should instead go to the social-emotional needs of children, such as by hiring more social workers and counselors.

The ACLU cites research that shows strict disciplinary practices in schools often target black males and set those children up for negative interactions with law enforcement and incarceration later on.

Luz María Henríquez, executive director of ACLU Missouri, said there is “no evidence that increased police presence in schools improves school safety.”

The Denver and Minneapolis school boards have voted to end contracts with local police departments in the weeks following the death of George Floyd. The school system in Portland, Oregon, is considering doing the same thing.

A national organization representing school resource officers says it’s the wrong move.

“We are, of course, dismayed to learn that some school systems have recently discontinued or considered discontinuing their SRO programs,” said Mo Canady, the executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.