JIM SHARPE

How about actual ‘safe spaces’ for Phoenix Union students?

Nov 30, 2021, 1:00 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)...
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

A shooting at Cesar Chavez High School in south Phoenix left a teen boy injured, police looking for a suspect and a whole lot of people second guessing the decision by the Phoenix Union High School District’s Governing Board to eliminate cops from their campuses — the district’s school resource officers. 

Considering what’s being done after this shooting, someone making decisions in the district seems to be among those second guessing that decision by the PUHSD board. 

When officers arrived at the Cesar Chavez campus at about 3 p.m. Monday, they found a 16-year-old boy suffering from a gunshot wound. 

Phoenix Police Sgt. Ann Justus said the teen, who is a student at the school, was shot in one of the bathrooms just after the school day ended. 

As police started the search for the suspect, Justus mentioned to reporters the frustration investigators often feel: “Getting people to talk to us and tell us what they saw — that’s always the hard part of any investigation.”

 

Hmmm … aren’t those the type of things a student might feel comfortable telling a school resource officer? A cop they feel comfortable with because they have a relationship with them? 

That’s crazy, Jim! Every student activist knows cops are on campus for two reasons: to arrest students of color (simply for being students of color) and, if they can score a two-fer, get their parents deported! 

Unfortunately for the anti-cops-on-campus activists, PUHSD announced, in light of Monday’s campus violence, they would, among other safety measures, deploy law enforcement to be “highly visible” at Cesar Chavez High School. 

Back in 2020, when the PUHSD Governing Board voted to end its school resource officer program (where Phoenix Police officers were assigned to spend their entire day on a campus), Chad Gestson, the district’s superintendent, said: “For many years, people believed that school safety was just physical safety. What we know today is that safety and health and wellness on a campus is social and psychological safety.” 

Back then, it was the existence of cops on campus that Gestson was referring to as making student activists feel socially and psychologically unsafe. 

Maybe a school resource officer wouldn’t have been in a position to stop the shooter from shooting in the first place, but their presence might’ve been a deterrent. And they would’ve at least been in place ready to catch the shooter on the spot or, as I mentioned before, been someone a witness would’ve been willing to talk to. 

So maybe the Phoenix Union High School District inviting cops to be a presence again (even if it’s on just one of their campuses and temporarily) is a sign that someone’s realized you can’t provide students with a psychological or social “safe space” without providing them with a physically safe space first. 

After all, dead kids can’t have hurt feelings. 

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Jim Sharpe

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How about actual ‘safe spaces’ for Phoenix Union students?