STOCKTON, Calif. — The Stockton Unified School District discussed a proposal on Tuesday night to defund the on-campus police department.
Board members spent hours hearing from current and past students, police officers, parents and others on both sides of the issue.
"In terms of fixing it, we need to straight up defund it. No reform is nothing," Sahila Shah, member of the Stockton Coalition for Shared Safety. "We need to defund it and allocate those funds to something else like we discussed in our proposition as well."
Shah, now a student at the University of the Pacific, is calling for Stockton's school board to defund the district's police department, bring ethnic studies and black studies to all the campuses and abolish the "zero tolerance policy," which she says disproportionately hurts students of color.
"This has been a long discussion that we've had for years actually," she said.
She said the nearly $8 million budgeted for the district's police department could be spent on more counselors, social workers and nurses.
Officer David Rose, President of the Stockton Unified School District's Police Officer's Association says, eliminating the department altogether would hurt the community.
"It would be a disservice to our students. It would be a disservice to our staff, the surrounding areas and the rest of our community," Rose said.
And in the event of a school shooting, he says the district would have to rely on off-campus resources, meaning longer response times.
He instead wants to use this conversation to create a transparent partnership with this coalition to show the changes they've already been making.
"We want to work together, and there's a huge opportunity for us to do that in the future," he said.
Ultimately, the board used Tuesday night's meeting as a discussion and tabled any decision for a later date.
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