Letter to the editor: Keep school resource officers out of Iowa City schools

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Photo by Matty Ring via Flickr.

By Kylie Buddin, Iowa City

I write to implore the Iowa City Community School District to stand firm on their previous decisions to not put SROs (school resource officers) in our schools. I am certain that those who advocate for their placement in our schools come from a place of caring, but I fear they will have an opposite effect on our community, in and out of the schools. I also don’t say this out of a place of fear of the police department, as there are many fine members of the local departments.

I do say this because once officers are in place, it will become too easy to involve them in cases that would have previously been simply office referrals. It has been documented many times that these referrals will be disproportionately on youth of color. It has also been adequately shown that this creates a school-to-prison pipeline for these youth of color. It should also be noted that among people of color and immigrant communities there is an uneasiness that could effectively chase people away from the schools. There are members of our community who come from places where the police are feared, and for good reason.

I do recognize that people have a fear of an incident involving violence in our schools and the violence recently in our community has stoked those fears. I just feel that we would be better off putting more money to social workers, therapists and family resource workers in our schools rather than SROs. Please consider the evidence-based response rather than the emotion-based response and keep SROs out of our schools.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 268.

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