A push at the federal level would remove police from schools, and a senator from Connecticut joined the charge.
Sen. Chris Murphy, along with three other lawmakers, introduced a bill that would pave the way to remove school resource officers and replace them with a counseling system.
"Tens of thousands of kids are arrested at school every single year and a disproportionate number of these students are Black and latino," Murphy said.
There are more than 10,000 SROs currently serving in schools across the country, including in Connecticut. Their goal is to protect children.
The new push, however, argues that their presence has the opposite effect.
Murphy was joined by some of the progressive Democrats, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, when he introduced the “Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act.”
In it, Murphy is quoted as saying, “Police shouldn’t be in schools. There are plenty of better ways to ensure that our schools are safe places to learn.”
He argued that students get arrested for minor things, which introduces them to the juvenile justice system at an early and makes a potentially bright future much more difficult.
“If we are going to begin to tackle systemic racism in this country, we must start by addressing the racial inequities in our education system, and getting police out of classrooms is a necessary first step," he wrote.
“Coming from an inner-city school myself, I could see that point being made,” said Tyrone Knighton of Vernon.
Some parents understand, but the majority of the thousands responding on Murphy’s Facebook post don’t agree. They worry about school safety.
“We’re living in a scary world, so you never know when [police] will be needed,” said Casey Calvert of Vernon.
Before becoming a senator, Murphy was a Congressional Representative for Newtown during the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Murphy referenced the shooting and said, “In Connecticut, in the wake of a horrific school shooting, many schools hired police officers to enhance the peace of mind of parents. But now we have plenty of evidence to show that there are far better ways to ensure kids’ safety, and that these police officers are contributing to a civil rights crisis that we must address.”
Brian Foley, assistant to the commissioner of Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, addressed that claim.
“I think it’s up to the schools to decide how they’re going to protect their students and what’s the best way to do that. I think there’s a lot of opinion out there, but there are certainly statistics and data to support that taking officers out of schools lowers arrests in schools,” Foley said.
Parents who spoke with Channel 3 agree, but couldn’t commit to the idea of removing offices completely.
“I haven’t seen the data that backs that up and makes sense for them to leave, I’m not sure. I’m 50-50 on it,” Knighton said.
The legislation was introduced on Wednesday. If it were to pass, not only would the bill divert federal funding away from supporting officers in schools, it would also support local agencies that want to terminate their contracts with police departments.
That's why some critics in law enforcement communities said the push was really about defunding the police.