JIM SHARPE

Phoenix Union SRO plan keeps cops at bay to turn kids into ‘Che’

Jun 5, 2023, 1:05 PM

File photo of school resource officers on campus. The Phoenix Union High School District Governing ...

(File Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images))

(File Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

After much back-and-forth, community debate and gnashing of teeth, the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board (PXU) has voted to return police officers to their campuses.

Kind of.

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer was followed by a summer of protests against the police in 2020, the PXU board (Arizona’s most politically progressive school board), voted to remove school resource officers (SROs) from their campuses. 

PXU’s SROs were Phoenix officers stationed directly on each of the district’s 18 campuses (which are located 1,600 miles from Minneapolis, by the way).

Shockingly, after the cops were kicked to the curb, guns started showing up at Phoenix Union high schools; one student shot another one while trying to sell him a gun on campus … and pressure mounted on the board to bring cops back on campus. 

So the board formed what they called a “student safety committee,” made up of parents, students, staff members and community activists.

After holding more than a dozen public meetings over seven months where they gathered feedback from community members and pored over data to figure out what was best, the committee recommended that the PXU board reinstitute its SRO program — with new guidelines that included stipulations that officers not participate in school discipline and ceding power to the district when it comes to hiring, accountability and the training of officers.

That all makes sense to me — especially wanting police to detain criminals instead of handing out detention for cheating on history tests like a vice principal. 

Despite district parents, students and teachers showing up to governing board meetings echoing what the safety committee recommended, the board voted last month to not adopt their own safety committee’s recommendations.

But then a teenager showed up at a Phoenix Union high school with an AR-15 — which forced the PXU board’s hand. It finally voted last week to bring officers back to campuses. 

But in a very different way than before.

The board will accept grant money from the Arizona Department of Education to hire six officers and will refer to them as Regional Response Officers (RROs) instead of SROs. With good reason: RROs won’t be stationed on or assigned to a specific campus.

The district still has to finalize some details, but it says two officers will be assigned to each region — central, south and west — and will be dispatched as needed.

Let’s see: That’s six officers divided by 18 schools … carry the nine …

Wow! Under this new plan, each school gets a third of an officer! 

Win-win for the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board members. They get to claim they’re keeping students and staff safe — while not overexposing students to the threat that police pose.

And cops on campus pose a threat — not a threat to student safety. Instead, a “cop-per-campus” policy poses a threat to the PXU board’s crazy political agenda. 

Letting kids be exposed to the same officer every day (because they’re stationed at their school) just might leave students with the impression that cops care about kids. 

And students seeing police as “officer friendly” instead of perceiving them as a public menace is a huge threat to the politically progressive PXU governing board, a group of politicians who seem much less interested in educating (or protecting) students than they do in churning out “Che Guevaras” from their schools. 

Jim Sharpe

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)...

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Phoenix Union SRO plan keeps cops at bay to turn kids into ‘Che’