The Los Angeles Unified School District's plan to slash $25 million from its policing budget and cut 133 officers from schools with the intention of diverting funds to support a proposed Black Student Achievement Plan is misguided and dangerous, a National Police Association spokesperson says.
"If I had a child in those schools, I would be very concerned," retired Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a 29-year-police veteran, told Newsmax on Thursday.
"It doesn't really accomplish anything. It's almost illogical."
The school board voted Tuesday to approve the plan, which includes reducing the police footprint in schools to 211 officers and diverts a total of $36.5 million to go toward a Black Student Achievement Plan to help minority students through increased counseling, curriculum updates, teacher development, and other programs promoting inclusion.
"Student safety is everyone's responsibility and starts with creating a school environment that is centered in students' social-emotional wellbeing," Board President Kelly Gonez said in a statement. "The Board's investment in the Black Student Achievement Plan ensures we are actively working to promote equity across the District."
Brantner Smith says the move will create problems for schools, police stations, and local communities.
"Are they harming the police officers? They are not," she said. "They are punishing the students; they are punishing the staff, because now who is going to deal with violent students?
"What if a student does get violent or a school is broken into and you call 911? Now you're taking the patrol officers out of the neighborhood to respond. . . . And they're not going to have specialized school resource officer training.
"When you get an average patrol officer, do they have CIT training or any kind of counseling background? And, as training dollars are taken away from other departments – let's say LAPD is responding – we're not going to have specialized people to respond. So, who loses? Not the officer."
Officers at secondary schools in the district will be replaced with a new "climate coach" in addition to psychiatric social workers, counselors, and restorative justice advisers.
Climate coaches will assist staff and site administrators by "supporting a safe and positive school culture and climate for all students, staff, and community members" and will "be from the communities they serve with extensive knowledge and familiarity to strengthen student connection."
"Needed services and supports are made possible by trimming the school police budget," board member Jackie Goldberg told the Los Angeles Times. "I have heard the concerns of Black students who have felt targeted by school police. I believe there are creative ways to keep our schools safe that don't rely on having an officer stationed on campus."
Brantner Smith says the school board underestimates the work of police officers.
"They are there to deal with all levels of crime, and also they act as a deterrent," she told Newsmax.
"That's prevention. The problem with prevention is you can't measure it. Now what will happen is you're going to see not only violent crime rise, but you're going to see petty offenses rise. You're going to see more bullying, less attendance, more skirmishes and usually what happens in these situations is, well we better hire some private security. Some can carry weapons, some can't. They don't have power of arrest. You're going to get a much lower quality professional often. There are terrific private security agencies, but they're also very expensive.
"This is part of the larger cancel culture. The whole 'defund the police' movement is almost a subset of that. It's not based on logic. It's not based on true statistics. It's based on emotion."
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