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Future tenuous for Toledo Police and Toledo Public Schools partnership

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 1:52 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A nationwide movement aimed at removing police officers from schools has come to Toledo.

Toledo Police Department officers have been stationed at Toledo Public Schools for a quarter of a century, but some people say that now is the time for that partnership to end. Community members are pleading with the district to remove officers from schools, suggesting those resources would be better spent on counseling and mental health services.

Last week, the Toledo City Council approved spending just under a quarter of a million dollars on school resource officers, an amount TPS with match, bringing the total cost of the program to nearly $500,000.

That’s a hefty price tag for a program activists say can create a school-to-prison pipeline that ultimately harms our most vulnerable youth.

“The same behavior that in a school with more resources would’ve been able to help that student, and prevent either the fight from happening, or the police being called, now this Black student, more than likely, is being forced into the carceral system,” says Ruth Leonard, an activist, educator, and former TPS substitute teacher.

TPS leadership says they have been discussing this for a year. But they also say it’s not as simple as kicking the police off campus. Deputy superintendent Jim Gant says the first step is to start retraining staff, including security personnel.

The district plans to use the time when students are remote learning to give training in things like diversity and de-escalation.

He says he’s talked to TPD about the training and changes the district is mulling over and says officials have been open-minded and supportive.

And this is just the beginning. The district doesn’t have firm long-term plans, but it is thinking long-term.

”I’m excited from a lot of different ways. It all comes down to servicing of kids, and I can’t tell you how much I believe in that, and the superintendent and the board believes in that. We’re talking about the support of our students,” says Gant.

TPD provided 13abc with a statement on the matter.

“Toledo Police and Toledo Public Schools have worked together for decades. TPD officers have been assigned to TPS schools since 1995 and if it’s the decision of TPS to not continue the partnership, TPD will respect that decision. If that happens, resources assigned to TPS will be re-assigned and utilized in other ways to serve the community.”

Lt. Meyer / Community Services Section

Copyright 2020 WTVG. All rights reserved.

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