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Chicago Police’s School Officer Program Needs Revamp Now, City Agency Says

The Inspector General's Office says Chicago Police aren't following best practices for the school resource officer program.

Chicago Police officers play basketball with kids at Shields Elementary in September 2017.
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CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department needs to reform its school resource officer program immediately, a city watchdog said in a new report. 

School resource officers are Chicago Police officers who are assigned to Chicago Public Schools. The Inspector General’s Office reviewed the program and found Chicago Police aren’t following best practices for the program and its recruitment, training and definition of duties for officers is “not sufficient to ensure” officers can carry out their duties.

The office recommended Chicago Police make immediate changes, including creating guidelines for what officers are recruited to schools, establishing training for school resource officers and maintaining a roster of officers assigned to schools.

Chicago Police told the office it “agreed with many of the recommendations,” but said the proposed changes would not take effect until the start of the 2019-20 school year as part of its consent decree, according to a news release from the Office of the Inspector General.

“CPD’s failure to act more expeditiously to implement all of the recommended reforms leaves students, teachers, parents and community stakeholders in the current school year without the protections and assurances of a school safety program that is aligned with national best practices,” said Joseph Lipari, the office’s deputy inspector general for Public Safety, in the news release.

The Police Department should create a Memorandum of Understanding with CPS and stakeholders from the community to ensure everyone understands the responsibilities of school resource officers, who aren’t supposed to be “involved in routine student disciplinary matters,” the report said.

The Department should also work with community members, including students and their families, to create hiring guidelines for school resource officers; implement ongoing training for the specialized officers; and create a way to evaluate how officers de-escalate situations and use alternatives to arresting students, among other changes, according to the office’s report.

Read the full report here: