ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The superintendent of schools in Alaska’s largest city plans to maintain the program that puts police officers in public schools.
Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop defended her decision to maintain the School Resource Officer program during a district board meeting Tuesday, Alaska Public Media reported.
Bishop sent an email to families last week explaining her decision in favor of the partnership between the district and the Anchorage Police Department.
The officers in the schools “develop a professional but human connection with both the students and staff, connections which are critical to building a foundation of mutual trust,” Bishop said.
There are 13 officers working in Anchorage schools, the district’s website said.
Bishop was unaware of complaints about the program and Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll has not received negative reports during his tenure, she said.
A call to remove officers from schools has been among the demands from people nationwide advocating for police reform following the police killing of George Floyd.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. Floyd was pinned to the pavement for what prosecutors say was 8 minutes, 46 seconds — a number that has since become a rallying cry among protesters across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
Some Anchorage parents who spoke during the board meeting criticized the decision and message to families from Bishop, who is white.
Andrea Reynolds, whose son is black, said the police do not make people feel safe and that school officials need to focus on the well being of students.
Bishop’s email did not take into account the experiences students of color have with officers, she said.
“I didn’t need a poem from her, I need a plan,” Reynolds said.
School Board President Elisa Vakalis said a community discussion about the resource officer program is scheduled for July 21.