Kalamazoo schools to continue use of police officers

After months of debate, the KPS board voted to continue paying officers to patrol its high schools.

Policing has been a hot-button issue this year, with the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the spring to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety’s mishandling of a racist rally in August.

It is in that atmosphere that the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education voted Thursday night to continue contracts that place police officers in two of the district’s high schools.

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“It takes a village to keep our students and staff safe in the school and [School Resource Officers] are part of that village,” said Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri during the meeting.

The vote comes after a petition was circulated that called for the district to cancel the contracts with KDPS and the Kalamazoo Township Police Department. The petition prompted administrators to survey staff and students about the presence of SROs.

Some respondents to the survey took issue with the overwhelming focus of police attention on Black students. Others cited safety concerns as a reason to keep officers in the schools.

“If we don’t have safe students, we don’t have graduating students,” said board member Jermaine Jackson.

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