Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

School board wants to keep officers in schools

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Burlington School Board has voted to recommend that police officers continue to be in public schools for the upcoming academic year, amid some demands to remove them and defund police.

Several dozen community members called into public comment sessions this week demanding that officers be removed from schools, WPTZ-TV reported. The board voted Thursday to recommend keeping them in schools.

Burlington has one resource officer at the high school and one at the middle schools.

Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and Vermont Legal Aid support removing police officers from public schools as part of broader criminal justice reform.

“The school-to-prison pipeline has no place in this country and its presence continues to criminalize students of color,” Iris Mann, a Burlington resident, said during a public comment session.

Some former students told the board that they and their classmates feel intimidated by an armed officer in the school. Activists want the resource officers replaced with more guidance councilors and social workers in schools.

Acting Police Chief Jon Murad told the board that the resource officer program was important to building trust and relationships between police and the community and the officers are a last line of defense in active shooter situations.

“It is part of the tools that officers have to perform the function that we unfortunately need them to in incredibly rare but high stakes scenarios,” he said.

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