A top Los Angeles teachers union official said Monday the organization supports disbanding a special 400-member police force charged with the task of keeping schools safe.
Cecily Myart-Cruz, the incoming president of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents some 30,000 teachers and support staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), said at a June 8 event that the union supports the elimination of the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD).
“We have to dismantle white supremacy. We must dismantle racial capitalism. And definitely we must defund the police and bring in the mental health services that our students need,” Myart-Cruz said.
LASPD is the biggest independent school police department in the United States, with over 410 sworn police officers and 101 non-sworn school safety officers (SSO), according to its website. The Epoch Times reached out to LASPD for comment but did not receive a reply by deadline.
Gil Gamez, president of the school police union, told the Los Angeles Times that he believes school police are critical for school safety.
“We are trained different. We have a vested interest … we had restorative justice [training], our police officers come from the communities they serve,” Gamez told the outlet.
“To see us be demonized and ostracized, I dont get it,” Gamez said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Twitter Monday criticized mounting calls across the country to remove police from schools, arguing that “this idiotic proposal would tragically result in MORE school shootings.”
“Dems have lost their minds. Having met repeatedly w/victims, parents & teachers hurt by gun violence in schools, the single most effective way to keep our kids safe is more armed police officers in schools,” Cruz wrote in commenting on a tweet from Politico that claimed the “police-free schools movement is picking up steam.”
Outgoing UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl told the Los Angeles Times that the unions board of directors voted last week to “start a process” that will lead to a larger union vote on whether to “take money out of the school police department and put it directly into mental health support, counselors, academic counselors.”
The remarks come amid a broader thrust to shift resources from policing to community-based initiatives, driven by the outcry over the police-custody death of George Floyd, which has fueled calls to overhaul police procedures, including to limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force encounters, and ban chokeholds.
A rallying cry of some protesters and proponents of police reform is to “defund the police,” a multi-layered movement that ranges from relatively moderate calls to adjust police budgets to fund the establishment of complementary or alternative community-based solutions, for example in the area of mental health crisis response, to more extreme proposals to disband police departments entirely.
Another dimension of the “defund the police” drive is cities across the country considering the removal of police from schools. This incRead More From Source