Chicago Police does not have clear directives on how it selects, trains and evaluates the officers who will be stationed inside Chicago Public Schools, according to a report by the city’s Inspector General.
Further, the report concluded that neither CPD nor CPS could even provide an up-to-date list of which officers were assigned to which schools.
“CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” Inspector General Joe Ferguson said in the report.
CPS previously told NBC 5 Investigates that officers were currently stationed in 75 high schools, down from 97 schools in 2010.
The district responded to a Freedom of Information Request by asking us to contact Chicago Police for guidelines and school assignments.
However, the two agencies have not had a legal agreement detailing the roles and responsibilities of school resource officers since December 2016.
Michelle Mbekeani-Wiley, a staff attorney for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, who drafted a 2017 report called “Handcuffs in the Hallways,” said operating an SRO program without a memorandum of understanding is problematic.
“If you insist on having police officers stationed in your school, make sure they are adequately trained because you’re going to spend more money on potential civil rights violations and misconduct settlements,” Mbekeani-Wiley said.
The OIG recommends CPS and CPD immediately enter into an agreement that emphasizes officers should not be involved in routine student disciplinary matters; designates a program coordinator to enhance coordination and accountability; maintains and regularly updates rosters of officers assigned to CPS; establishes ongoing training for officers assigned as SROs.
In response to the report, CPD said it would “undertake best efforts to enter into an MOU with CPS” and develop policies that define SRO roles and responsibilities.
“(We concur) with a majority of (the Inspector General’s) recommendations. This is why we created a specific section in the federal consent decree that was filed in court,” said CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “In short, school resource offices will obtain specialized training focusing on national best practices for dealing with youth. The training will also center around improved crisis-intervention training, cultural diversity and incident de-escalation.”
CPS also echoed CPD’s consent decree in improving police outcomes in schools.
“CPS has taken dramatic steps to improve school climates and reduce punitive discipline to improve students’ academic and safety outcomes by focusing on restorative practices and social-emotional learning,” said CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton.