Minneapolis ends school resource officer program. Will St. Paul be next?

The St. Paul school board will re-evaluate its school resource officer program next week after their Minneapolis counterparts voted Tuesday to break ties with that city’s police department.

The St. Paul district is paying up to $775,000 this school year to station seven police officers at public high schools in the city. The one-year contract expires next month.

“The Board plans to review our relationship with the SPPD in light of current events. We are prepared to take action on this important matter with thoughtful dialogue,” board vice chair Jeanelle Foster said in a statement released by the school district Wednesday.

The contract discussion will be part of Tuesday’s board meeting, but any formal action would wait till June 23.

The St. Paul district began reforming its program in 2016 amid police scrutiny following a suburban officer’s shooting death of school food service worker Philando Castile and the rough arrest of a student at Central High School.

School-based officers no longer arrest students for minor crimes, and any arrests they do make require a school administrator’s involvement. They also get training in racial equity and nonviolent intervention.

Board members have debated the merits of the program each year, fretting over the financial and psychological costs of having armed officers in schools. But the most recent vote, last December, was unanimous in favor of another one-year contract.

St. Paul student surveys have found overwhelming support for the program.

Outrage over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody led a unanimous Minneapolis school board on Tuesday to terminate its relationship with their police department.

Now, some are calling for the St. Paul district to do the same with St. Paul police.


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