Update, Thursday 2:15 pm:
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that PPB's entire school resource officer unit—called the Youth Services Division—would be disbanded, meaning SROs will be removed from both PPS as well as David Douglas and Parkrose School Districts. All current SROs will be reassigned to other roles within PPB.
Wheeler added that the $1 million currently dedicated to the unit will be reallocated using a “community-driven process” to determine its new use.
“This is about the community telling us what they need," Wheeler added. "We need to listen and act.”
Wheeler said he made the decision to disband the Youth Services Division on Wednesday—before Guerrero's announcement—but waited until Thursday to make his decision public because he wanted to inform the SROs first. Wheeler told PPB Chief Jami Resch about his decision on Wednesday as well.
PPB's Youth Services Division has been in operation since 1999. The disbanding of it is "effective immediately," according to a press release from the bureau.
"Over the last several years there have been ongoing conversations about the police and their role in public schools," Resch said in a media statement. "Some members of the community have expressed their concerns and desires for an alternative option to having police assigned to the schools... I want to reassure the public that if there is a public safety emergency at a school, PPB will respond—we just will not have dedicated resources specifically assigned to the schools."
Portland Public Schools (PPS)—the school district that covers a majority of Portland—will no longer have a routine police presence in its schools.
On Thursday, PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announced on Twitter that he is "discontinuing the regular presence" of school resource officers from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), adding that the district needs to "re-examine our relationship with the PPB." The move comes after a week of protests against police brutality in Portland and across the country following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The time is now. With new proposed investments in direct student supports (social workers, counselors, culturally-specific partnerships & more), I am discontinuing the regular presence of School Resource Officers @PPSConnect. We need to re-examine our relationship with the PPB.
— Guadalupe Guerrero (@Super_GGuerrero) June 4, 2020
Guerrero's decision comes as some Portland City Council members are planning their own reforms to PPB. On Tuesday, police officers responded to protests with indiscriminate tear gas and other heavy uses of force; on Wednesday, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly called for banning the use of tear gas, and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty proposed defunding three PPB programs that she said result in the disproportionate prosecution of Black people and other people of color—including the School Resource Officer (SRO) unit.
PPB's SROs are meant to provide a friendly bridge between students and the police force, and make it so that if there's an emergency that requires a police response at a school, there are officers that are already familiar with the environment. But national data shows that SROs disproportionately arrest students of color, and student activists from PPS schools campaigned to get SROs out of their schools in 2018 and 2019. PPS responded by launching a series of student-led discussions—but SROs remained on campus.
"I've always felt that simply being around a police officer was threatening to me," Grant High School student Micah Mizushima told the Mercury last year. "I see police officers as unpredictable, and it scares me."
It's unclear what role—if any—PPB's school resource officers will have at PPS schools moving forward. PPB also provides SROs for David Douglas School District and Parkrose School District. So far, those districts have not announced new SRO policies following this week's protests.