Denver schools removed police officers from their halls after the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020. Three years later, the city's schools are bringing back police officers because of violence, particularly gun violence, and other schools around the U.S. are following suit, the New York Times reports. Communities that had banned school resource officers, like Alexandria, Va., and Pomona, Cal., have changed course. Some larger cities that removed officers, such as Seattle and Washington, D.C., are embroiled in contentious debates about bringing them back. The debate over resource officers comes after the nation set a record for school shootings in 2022, punctuated by the murder of 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Tex.
The evidence is clear, however, that police presence results in disproportionate suspensions and arrests of Black and Latino students. The school shootings in Uvalde and Parkland, Fla., highlighted failures by the police to stop mass killings, bringing into question how effective they may actually be. In 2020, Denver School Board members cited as a major reason for removing officers data showing that Black students were far more likely than white students to be arrested. Despite popular support for armed officers in schools, numerous studies have shown that such policing does little to prevent shootings or gun violence. Ben Fisher, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, analyzed nearly three dozen studies of school police and wrote that the presence of officers “contributes to increased punishment of students without providing improvements in school safety.”