Care Not Cops

CT State Legislators and Municipal Leaders

All students deserve to feel safe, secure, and supported in their places of learning. Yet we too often rely on policing to keep children in line, rather than funding professionals trained to deliver students necessary developmental and behavioral health resources. The Community First Coalition’s Care Not Cops campaign is an intergenerational group of youth organizers and advocates, who aim to dissolve Connecticut’s reliance on police officers in schools and build a system that emphasizes community and care in our educational system.

Petition by
Yanitza Cubilette
New London, Connecticut

To: CT State Legislators and Municipal Leaders
From: [Your Name]

Racial discrimination and inequities have long been documented in our nation’s system of policing, and the impact of uneven policing continuously falls on the heads of our Black and Latinx communities. With the prevalence of School Resource Officers (SROs), law enforcement officers assigned to schools, the negative impacts of policing follow our youth into their places of learning. Research shows that the presence of SROs in schools increases the likelihood of discipline and arrest for Black and Latinx students, without providing measurably better educational or safety outcomes. This in turn can lead to worse outcomes for students, as research also shows that students who were diverted to social services or school officials rather than arrested were 2.4 less likely to offend than students who were arrested for engaging in similar behavior. To protect the well-being of our students, we should be looking to counselors, not cops.

The American School Counselor Association recommends that schools have a ratio of 1 counselor per 250 students to provide adequate developmental and behavioral health resources. However, as school-based arrests in Connecticut increased by 17 percent from the 2011-12 to the 2018-19 school year, the latest available data shows that about 15 percent of CT school districts do not employ a single social worker, and the vast majority maintain inadequate counselor to student ratios. The school districts in the top five CT cities for school-based arrests (according to the CT Court Support Services Division (CSSD) data) all have counselor to student ratios below the recommended level. For example, Waterbury has one counselor for every 317 students, while New Britain has one counselor for every 620 students.

The current definition of what constitutes a School Resource Officer is far too narrow. A new standard definition that includes police, as well as security officers and other non-police actors in schools must be put into place.
Accountability and Transparency Legislation for all police-involved interactions in schools
A Dissolution of SROs Bill: Legislation that creates a process to replace SRO's with School Resource Counselors (SRC).
Disentangle Schools from Systems of
Incarceration: Police do not need to be involved in situations where a school counselor, a parent, a peer-based interventionist, or other people who are seen as credible community-based messengers by students, especially students of color.