Stockton Unified School Board members will discuss a resolution to defund its police department during its meeting Tuesday night.
If it passed, the measure would eliminate the police force and remove officers from all Stockton Unified campuses.
According to the resolution, it would direct interim Superintendent Brian Biedermann to reallocate department funds towards student support positions and services including:
- The expansion of a positive ethnic studies program to combat systemic racism
- The expansion of transformative and/or restorative justice programs
- The hiring of mental and behavioral health professionals
The resolution notes the annual operating budget for the district’s police department is $8 million. The budget covers 32 sworn officers and 11 civilian personnel.
Demonstrators met Monday outside the Stockton Unified School District Police Department. A group of current and former Stockton Unified students, educators, community members, and family members make up the Stockton Shared Safety Coalition. This group helped board trustee Lange Luntao draft the resolution.
Minister Leon Scoggins is among those pushing to take police officers off campuses.
“I believe we won’t have a need for the police system in our schools if we direct our funds toward things that really matter,” Scoggins said. “I believe that the police system won’t be needed.”
The Stockton Unified Police Department has come under heavy criticism for past discriminatory practices. The department had to address those practices following an investigation by the state Department of Justice.
SUSD Police Officers Association president David Rose says the department has changed. He points to numbers that show bookings and arrests have dropped, and that officers now let school staff respond to behavioral problems.
He says eliminating the police department from the schools would be a mistake.
“It’s really a terrible, terrible time to take away the only safety net that the school district and our students have to help them keep them safe when an outside actor does bring those bad intentions onto campus,” said Rose.
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