Texas tragedy colors local conversation around school policing | Courts-police-firefighters
URBANA – The police response to a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has brought the relationship between law enforcement and schools into the national spotlight.
Steven C. McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said on Friday it was the “wrong decision” for police, believing that “no child was in danger”, to wait for more an hour to enter the classrooms in which 19 children and two teachers were shot dead.
The tragedy and conversation strike at a particular time for Champaign and Urbana, where public school district boards in both cities recently voted to continue their school resource officer programs.
After a debate on Thursday evening, the two Democratic candidates from Illinois’ 13th congressional district shared their thoughts on police presence in schools and the shooting, which occurred two days earlier.
“I think school resource officers have their place, but I think we need to look at what it looks like after the allegations at Uvalde,” said David Palmer of Champaign. “If the rhetoric is that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun, then there’s no nicer guy than a policeman, we’re told. If School Resource Officers cannot respond at this time, we may need to look into what that looks like.
“Now I support school resource officers in our community because (they are) not specifically for that reason. I think it’s more about creating camaraderie and understanding the kids in our community. But we have to get to the safety side, about, are the school resource officers the ones stopping the mass shootings or not? Because parents have a real dilemma with that.
His opponent in the June 28 primary, Nikki Budzinski of Springfield, warned of reactionary responses and first guns in the wake of the mass shooting.
“I think we have to be very careful about saying that the answer to that is a Ted Cruz solution, which is to give the teachers guns or to put more guns in the school,” he said. she said, referring to the Republican senator from Texas. “I think what we should do is partner with law enforcement to find ways to support the school, which makes the most sense for the local school district. But I would ultimately leave that decision to school district professionals and the parents themselves to decide — it’s not for me.
During the debate hosted by Illini Public Media, Budzinski applauded Champaign for his use of federal coronavirus relief funds in his $6.2 million gun violence prevention plan unveiled late last year. .
In Urbana, the school board narrowly voted to renew the contracts of its two school resource officers for the next three years, but the deal still needs to be approved by city council because the new terms call for the city to pay $25 % of invoice.
The district, which recouped the full price of the previous three-year contract, expects the first year of the new one to cost $270,000.
Mayor Diane Marlin said the council is expected to vote on contract renewals for the officers — one each in high school and college — by June 21.
The Champaign School Board voted 6 to 1 in April to renew its school resource officer program at a cost of no more than $350,000 for the next school year, police manpower permitting.