After the recent backlash of a Black Lives Matter school curriculum being taught, Ames Police Department and parents are now pushing back against the Ames school board’s new initiative to eliminate school resource officers entirely (SRO’s).
The push from the school board, particularly from Director of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Anthony Jones, comes after claims from school officials that school resource officers ‘disproportionately” have encounters with students of color based on ‘school data.’ School officials are in talks to completely do away with officers in the district to curb this asserted problem.
In a recent Opinion Column ACLU of Iowa Director: Police In Schools cause real harm. Ames should end its SRO Program published in the Ames Tribune argues, “In an era when every week seems to bring a new and horrible video of a Black person being wrongly shot by a police officer, eliminating SROs in our school has taken on a new and urgent meaning.”
Yet claims by school officials and others alike could not be farther from the truth.
Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle and the police department have kept records of officer, and student encounters over the years, especially when turning to the 2018-2019 incident records.
Tuttle explained that many officer-related incidents at Ames School district are initiated by the school or administrators who need assistance with student issues.
Tuttle shared the frustration of officers being labeled as a threat to the school when officers have built close relationships and mentorships with students for years on end.
“Citations are such a small part of the job,” said Tuttle, responding to the recent generalizations that officers simply go around trying to cite as many students as possible.
Tuttle specified that the data used by the school board is unclear on whether or not the ‘encounters’ of law enforcement between students of color are positive or negative interactions.
Ames police officers have extensive training in dealing with adolescent behavior compared to regular street patrol officers. If the Ames School district were to eliminate their SRO’s, Tuttle noted that you would have less experienced officers helping in school incidents than those with the needed training and solid relationships with kids and school faculty.
Tuttle referenced an incident where an SRO took a firearm from a student on school grounds after talking with the student, crediting the officer since the student and officer-involved had a prior positive relationship. The incident could have played out differently if it wasn’t for that relationship, noted Tuttle.
“We see the school as a partner moving forward with SRO’s-we want to do what’s best for our community and for the kids in schools,” said Tuttle.
Eve Lederhouse, Ames school parent of a 2nd grader, shared her frustrations about the recent developments.
“All the school resource officers are amazing, they are so kind and have built so many great relationships from students of all backgrounds and grade levels,” said Lederhouse.
The biggest aspect is that police presence is a huge deterrence to horrific acts in schools, and the lack of them would increase violent activity within schools, expressed Lederhouse.
“We believe in public schools and love how diverse Ames is, yet not at the expense of our kids being Indoctrinated,” Lederhouse said regarding the SRO and BLM school curriculum.