(Reuters) - The board of education in Oakland, California, has voted to abolish its own police force, joining a growing number of U.S. school districts moving to scale back the presence of law enforcement on their campuses in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing.
The board’s unanimous vote on Wednesday night to disband the Oakland Unified School District police department, consisting of 10 officers and 57 unarmed security guards, capped years of pressure for dismantlement led by the local activist group Black Organizing Project.
Under the newly adopted measure, some $2.5 million in money previously earmarked for school district police would be reallocated toward student-support positions, including social workers, psychologists and other mental or behavioral health professionals.
It also calls for a new school safety plan to be devised for the public school district, which serves some 37,000 students.
The action by the Oakland school board came a day after its counterpart across the bay in San Francisco also voted to go police-free in its schools. Denver’s public school system voted earlier this month to terminate its contract with the city’s police department to provide school resource officers.
However, the board of education for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second-largest, failed to agree on Tuesday to a measure to phase out police in its schools.
School systems across the country, including those in Chicago and New York, face mounting pressure to remove police and school resource officers as part of a nationwide push for law enforcement reform following Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
Proponents have cited a University of California, Los Angeles, study showing that a quarter of LAUSD police detentions and citations involved Black students, who account for just 9% of the district’s total enrollment. They have also cited a survey that found over 40% of youth experienced random police stops and interactions in their schools.
Defenders of police in schools say those officers are specially trained to de-escalate tensions and to protect campuses from outside threats, such as mass shootings.
(This story corrects size of school police force in paragraph two)
Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Nathan Frandion in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Daniel Wallis