PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two Pittsburgh Public Schools police officers say removing law enforcement from schools will only hurt the students.
On Monday, protesters gathered to voice their opinions about police in schools outside the board of education building in Oakland.
A petition in connection with the protest is calling for several changes, including removing all 22 Pittsburgh Public School police officers from inside and outside the schools as well as adopting policies that keep Pittsburgh police out, except when required by law or if there is an imminent risk of serious physical harm.
Discussions about police in schools continued Tuesday during school board hearings, where police officers were heard from. Officer Marion Parker works for PPS, and she’s seen a lot.
She talked to KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso, speaking out for the first time.
“I have arrested for firearms, arrested for weapons, for drugs, arrested for assaults, I’ve arrested for trespassing,” Officer Parker said.
Parker’s colleague Alphonso Roberts has also seen some tense situations.
“I had to apprehend an armed intruder and subdue him before he did any harm,” Officer Roberts said.
Both submitted testimony to the school board on Tuesday as community groups want more counselors, social workers and a community-led police review board.
School board president Sylvia Wilson said more people testified in favor of school police than against during Tuesday’s hearings. She added that the board has heard nearly 250 public comments in two days.
But she does not expect big changes.
“There may be some small changes, but I can’t see huge changes at this point. But we have to make sure everyone is safe in our buildings,” said Wilson. “I think the most important thing is, this school board must do everything it can do ensure that we have safe learning environments for our students and a safe working environment for our staff.”
The 22 school police officers are unarmed and trained. Parker and Roberts cannot imagine schools without cops.
“We love our students,” Officer Roberts said. “They are becoming like family to us. Most of us our father figures, role models.”
“What I don’t want to have happen is anyone gets shot or injured or killed on district property,” Officer Parker said.
The union representing the school police officers told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrsso that they are surveying teachers in the district. They want to know if teachers want police in schools.
The school board will hear the police-free resolution on Wednesday, and a vote is likely to come weeks later.