LA School Police Chief resigns one day after board approves massive “defunding” of school police department

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LOS ANGELES, CA – Todd Chamberlain, the Los Angeles School Police Chief, stepped down from his post as of Wednesday, less than one year after taking the job and one day after the district school board approved a 35% cut to its school police force.

Chamberlin was a 33-year law enforcement veteran before becoming chief of school police in December.  He took the job after retiring as a commander with the Los Angeles Police Department. 

After putting in his resignation as the school police chief, Chamberlin said in a statement:

“After humbly serving my communities, departments and personnel over 35 years in law enforcement, I have been placed in a position that makes my ability to effectively, professionally and safely impact those groups unachievable.”

He added:

“In good conscience and in fear for safety and well-being of those I serve, cannot support modifications to my position, the organization and most importantly, the community (students, staff and families) that I believe will be detrimental and potentially life-threatening.”

The LAUSD Board of Education voted to reduce the agency’s budget by $25 million in response to weeks of protests calling for officials to “defund” the police.  In addition, the action calls for officers to give up their uniforms and patrol off campus and will lead to the layoffs of 65 offices in the 471-employee department. 

Money saved from these cuts will fund staff to specifically serve the needs of black students, including the hiring of safety aides and social workers, and will be allocated to fund a task force to “study” campus safety.

Former Chief Chamberlian said the department would have a ratio of one officer for every 3,450 students. LAUSD’s high schools would only have one officer in place and staff could only work form 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Night-time patrols that protect the buildings from break-ins and vandalism, incidents that have been on the rise during the pandemic, would be limited. After-school programs designed to intervene before a crime occurs would also not be able to be staffed anymore.

Chamberlain said:

“What you’re going to have is law enforcement personnel posted outside managing the best they can to maintain order–but as far as the intervention/prevention component, I can attest, based on my experiences, that is not going to be a functioning part of this organization again.”

The move to defund school police came after United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) called for on-campus police to be removed entirely in early June.

Cecily Myart-Cruz, the incoming president of the UTLA said:

“We have to dismantle white supremacy. We must defund the police and bring in the mental health services that our students need.”

Superintendent Austin Beutner addressed the budget cut by saying this:

“This budget reflects our commitment to do all we can to help students continue to learn while dealing with the impact of the pandemic–we expect this interim budget will need to be revised when the state provides updated school budget information later this year.”

The vote by a 4-to-3 margin took place late in the evening following hours of public testimony by activists and students supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and by parents and officers who spoke in favor of the police team. 

Several officers also defended the department. 

Detective Shrhonda Morris said:

“Officers routinely treat students respectfully. The lies that continue to be told about school officers random searching students are lies meant to pull on the heart strings of the public and designed to create outrage… who is going to protect those teachers?”

As one of the largest independent school police departments in the nation, the LASPD employs 366 sworn officers and 95 non-sworn officers with a budget of roughly $70 million.

 

Here’s more from Law Enforcement Today on LAUSD and LASPD.

Following nationwide protests in the wake of the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd, the Los Angeles School Police Department has been under attack.  Select members of the school board are using this tragic and unnecessary death to fuel their political aspirations.

The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) leadership views this as an easy money-grab- a way to push money into the city’s bank and into their own pockets, with LASPD budget sitting at $70 million.

Last Tuesday, Los Angeles Unified School District School Board Members Monica Garcia and Nick Melvoin voted to approve a resolution that would year after year defund the LASPD, until they were eliminated completely from all LAUSD campuses. 

This is also known as phasing the police out of the schools.

Board Members Garcia and Melvoin were working off of false statistics produced by UTLA leaders. 

Melvoin, earlier in the meeting, submitted an amendment to a separate resolution, which also failed, to defund the LASPD $20 million with the swipe of a pen. 

Melvoin did not get the majority votes on his amendment. So he came for more.  

Joe Cameron, President of Public Safety Association Consultants, said:

“The sad part of the equation is that Mr. Melvoin believes he can just defund the Los Angeles School Police Department without any ramifications. It’s not that easy.  A $20 million reduction would equal a severe reduction in service to his own district.  A district with strong support for the Los Angeles School Police Department.”

The final resolution, the elimination of the LASPD, was written by long-time School Board Member Monica Garcia, who is set to term-out of the LAUSD school board in 2022. 

This is the same LAUSD School Board member who earlier in the year, ran for Los Angeles City Council and finished in an embarrassing fourth place.  

All that said, it’s not surprising that Garcia turned her back on law enforcement after enjoying years of support from those in blue. 

Over the years, Ms. Garcia continuously received the endorsements of law enforcement  associations around the State of California. Those associations stood by her side, and she was always willing to take a fat endorsement check. 

Now that the narrative does not work for her political career, she has quickly turned her back on the fine men and women of law enforcement. 

We all know politics is a dirty game, but Garcia is the epitome of a politician who will throw anyone under the bus to further her political career. 

When the times were good for Ms. Garcia, she had the back of law enforcement:

“I’m proud to be supported by the officers who work to keep our kids safe in our schools and in our community.” 

And yet, when the times are tough, she abandoned them without resolve:

“If there are not four votes today, to address the transition away from a school police department, which really has the only license to KILL, other than not teaching kids to read a write [LAUSD Board Meeting 10:39:20].”

Let’s go over some facts- some REAL facts:

The LASPD is the largest school police department in the nation and has been serving the LAUSD since 1948.  They have the privilege to serve and protect 1300 campuses and sites, in 13 municipalities and they cover 710 square miles of jurisdiction.

They protect over 600,000 students and 69,000 employees, which consist of teachers, administrators, nurses, counselors, clerical staff, bus drivers and more.

Last school year, the LASPD responded to approximately 135,000 emergency calls on our campuses and sites, that included robberies, attempt kidnappings and other serious crimes. 

Of those emergency calls, 155 were mass school threats. 

William Etue, Vice-President of the Los Angeles School Police Officers Association, said:

“Who is going to respond to these emergency calls if we are not here?  Has everyone quickly forgotten about the tragedies in Parkland, FL, Sandy Hook, Columbine?

“We must be there to protect our students and we cannot allow politics to get in the way of safety for our children.” 

This comes after Etue went before the school board and made it known that if the LAUSD School Board removed LASPD officers from their campuses, those who voted to remove them should not be entitled to “qualified immunity” if a tragedy occurred because of it.

The LASPD created the first of its kind school district mental health evaluation team. This revolutionary team responded to 1,387 calls last year and assisted students in getting the resources they needed. 

Additionally, the Los Angeles School Police Department established one of the nation’s top prevention and early intervention programs, that continuously works to ensure their students graduate safely, and on time.

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Rudy Perez, Vice-President of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and Sergeant with the Los Angeles School Police Department said:

“Being an SRO is about one thing:  It’s all about relational-based policing. You might ask yourself what is that?  We’ll it’s about verified trust through student and community engagement through early intervention and early prevention programs.” 

NASRO Vice-President Perez travels the nation speaking and teaching on the state-of-the-art early intervention and prevention programs created by the LASPD. 

The LASPD has an interagency collaboration between counselors and school police officers.  The day-to-day routine of a school police officer is not like that of a normal street cop.  Some morning routines consist of meeting with principals to exchange information about a student who may need assistance. 

A big part of the assignment is meeting with school counselors and social workers, learning about “bullying” or “sexual abuse” and investigating those crimes.  

Perez said:

“Community policing and the presence of school resource officers on school campuses serve a vital role fostering a safe learning environment for our students and staff.”

Gil Gamez, President of the Los Angeles School Police Officers Association said:

“The Press wants to paint us in a negative light when that could be further from the truth. We protect our students from the evil that no one wants to talk about.” 

Last year alone, the Los Angeles School Police Department responded to 95 robberies, 466 assaults, 369 burglaries and 69 assaults with a deadly weapon. 

If the Los Angeles School police officers are not there, who will answer those calls for help?

Social workers? With no means to protect themselves, much less the students?

Since the inception of the LASPD, the police department has given out 52 “life-saving” awards, with 23 of those awards coming between 2017-2019. 

School police play a pivotal role in securing and fostering a safe learning environment for their students and staff.

It’s not about, as Garcia so viciously put it, having a “license to kill.” It’s about having a relationship with the students. Keeping them safe is important, yes. But building those bonds with the kids, attempting to have positive police interactions and ideally prevent those who may not have any  other role models from living a life of crime.

This is a dangerous resolution and it’s set to be vote upon on Tuesday, June 30. Maybe it’s just a fantasy, but we at Law Enforcement Today are holding out hope that the board will do the right thing and keep students and staff safe.

Defend the police!

 

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