The Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement after the Boulder Valley School Board voted to remove uniformed police officers, also referred to as school resource officers (SROs), from Boulder Valley public schools. The target date for the end of the SRO program is January 2022.
“After evaluating the disproportionate impact that school resource officers have on students of color, the Boulder Valley School Board took action to make sure that all students feel safe in our schools,” said Nicole Liabraaten, a volunteer with the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We’re looking forward to seeing this plan implemented. We commend the School Board for its decision and thank the NAACP for leading in this effort.”
“There’s no evidence that school resource officers make schools any safer; instead, they make school less safe for students of color,” said Ava Rehbeck, a volunteer with University of Colorado-Boulder Students Demand Action. “We’re glad that the School Board looked at the facts and ended this program.”
According to reporting from the Boulder Daily Camera, “of the 45 arrests of students by school resource officers during the past three years, 33% were Latino students, who make up 19% of the district’s total enrollment, and 4% were Black students, who make up 1% of the district’s total enrollment. School resource officers also gave 489 tickets to students during the past three years. Of those, 28% were issued to Latino students and 5% to Black students.”
There is no research indicating that SROs are effective at deterring school gun violence or mass shootings. Research does show, however, that Black and brown students are already disciplined at higher rates than their white peers, and that armed presence in schools is associated with an increase in middle school discipline rates, a decrease in high school graduation rates, and a decrease in college enrollment.
The best way to keep students safe in schools is to stop gun violence before it can begin. The data is clear that most active shooters in schools are current or former students, who showed warning signs and accessed guns from the home of their parents or close relatives. That means enacting common-sense policies like red flag laws, raising awareness about the need for secure firearm storage in the home, funding mental health professionals, implementing evidence-based threat assessment programs that help school staff evaluate and intervene when a student poses a threat to themselves or others, and improving the physical security of schools.