School police will no longer patrol city public school halls come September. Instead, “school safety officers” in less severe uniforms and with different job descriptions will be stationed throughout the Philadelphia School District.
The move comes amid local and national pushes to remove police from schools. A handful of big-city districts, including those in Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, and Oakland, have severed or backed away from relationships with police departments in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of police.
Bethel, appointed in November after a long career in the Police Department, has made plain his and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.‘s aim to transform the force — moving away from arresting and toward mentoring and providing social services supports. It’s work that Bethel moved toward at the end of his police career, gaining national acclaim for implementing a youth arrest-diversion program that has slashed student arrests by 84% since 2013.
Officers have been trained in trauma-informed practices, and will receive more education on things like implicit bias.
”We are a different organization,” Bethel told the Philadelphia school board at its Thursday night meeting. “We will be a different organization.”
To read the full article by Kristen A. Graham, click here.