Cedar Rapids School Board discusses recommended changes to School Resource Officers

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – On Monday evening, the Cedar Rapids Community School District Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team made several recommendations to change the way school resource officers patrol buildings school and where they should do it.

This came after the district took some time to review its relationship with the Cedar Rapids Police Department. The data showed that black students interacted disproportionately with police officers in school settings compared to other students.

The most dramatic recommendation was the removal of school resource officers from McKinley and Roosevelt Middle Schools. These two schools are among the most ethnically and racially diverse. District data shows that over the past four years, there have been an average of almost 15 arrests in McKinley and almost 12 per year in Roosevelt. The fewest arrests have taken place in Harding, which had nearly four a year.

The diversity team also recommends that ORS not wear their police uniforms at school. They would wear khaki pants and a polo shirt instead, but they would still have their belts with their guns on them.

The recommendations also included the presence of parents when an SRO questions a child about a potential crime, and limiting arrests for first offenses to only the most serious offenses.

“It’s about collating 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 the ORS with the arrests, but also from us internally in our system and how we respond to students, ”Deputy Superintendent Nicole Kooiker said.

Prior to the meeting, many members of the community were able to make a public comment. Some said they wanted to replace PROs with trained therapists and counselors. Others said they wanted to keep ORS in these buildings because they felt safer with officers patrolling the schools where their children and their friends’ children attend.

The board of directors did not decide to adopt these recommendations on Monday evening, but these decisions could be made at a future meeting.

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