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  • Tamisha Torres-Walker

Regarding decision to not renew Federal Grant for Student Resources Officer Position for Antioch.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, December 15, 2020


Contacts:

Tamisha Torres-Walker – Antioch Councilmember District 1, 510-493-3875, info@tamishaforantioch.com

Ratha Lai – Public Relations Liaison, 510-313-3144,


Regarding decision to not renew Federal Grant for Student Resources Officer Position for Antioch.

On Tuesday December 15th, the Antioch City Council held a special meeting to discuss renewing a grant from the Federal Government that would partially pay for school resource officers but also require the city of Antioch and the school board to pay the remaining costs for six school resource officers.


I want to first express my condolences for all families who have lost loved ones from both inter-community and state-sanctioned violence. I know the pain of losing a loved one and lost my brother when he was 18 to gun violence. He was shot and killed on his way home from work. I do not allow my 13 year old son to walk around the neighborhood and no less than a week ago my oldest son walked to the corner store with his 1 year old daughter and had a gun pulled on him and thank God he was saved by and older gentlemen in the community who was nearby.


When there is violence in our community it spills into our schools. Our first priority to ensuring safe schools is to ensure safety in our community. Our streets must be safe, and that comes with having a community people can thrive in, not struggle in. We need safe places for our kids to play, develop, socialize and have multiple opportunities to steer away from criminal behavior.


Neglecting root causes like the lack of social support services creates challenges to prevent violence before it begins, grows and spills into our schools. The first step to ensuring safe schools is ensuring a safe community.


I spoke with the Police Chief and value the Antioch Police department. I believe every community deserves access to quality police services.


The Student Resource Officers would be reassigned from the current police department. Many of these officers have years of service and we need those skills and experience in the community where violence starts, not where it spills afterwards into our schools.


I believe safety in our schools can be achieved when our police department is able to establish the initial trust with our community. We must also understand the dangers of contributing public safety solely to policing. During a pandemic where everybody is staying home and sheltering in place, George Floyd had to lose his life violently to police on camera for the world to erupt in widespread protest to demand change to the longstanding state sponsored violence black, brown, indigenous and people of color have been harmed and terrorized by.


Voters in Antioch voted to have better police accountability, not to be more policed. We need to see the progress of police accountability so trust can be established in the community.


We need to join the movement of cities reimagining public safety where the process addresses the root causes of harm in our communities. This process involves a robust community engagement effort. It builds trust, creates dialogue, and a collective vision and buy in to what Antioch can and should be from every member of our community regardless of their race or level of income. It involves speaking to every member of our community and requires us to do the hard work of addressing the problems we hear from our community.


I am concerned by the comments that claim we need SRO’s to be safe in our schools because our youth are perceived as threats. Our youth are not threats, they are not criminals, nor should we as adults and guardians be afraid of them to the point that our safety is threatened by their presence and behavior.


Research complied from academics from the University of Louisville, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of Delaware, George Mason University and University of Florida finds that students of color are more likely to be perceived as threats than white students.


“SROs in the urban-diverse district described student-based threat as a certainty, not a possibility. These SROs described the school environment as tense and chaotic, where school personnel were at risk of losing control of the students at any given moment:


Whereas SROs in the suburban-White district tended to identify high socio-economic status as a reason that students were not a threat, the SROs in the urban-diverse district tended to identify students’ poor upbringing or other cultural and family deficits as the reason for violence and aggression.


I want to let our youth know, I see you, you matter and I will listen.


Several other comments from the public show community members, former alumni, family of students, teachers and school administrators speak about the lack of resources already facing schools. Our schools struggling and our students need emotional and mental health services to become thriving adults. They do not need us to police them and now is the right time to make this change.


This is why I believe a no vote was needed for this decision. I appreciate the robust comments submitted by the public and look forward to working with the Police Chief in ensuring that we can begin reducing violence where it starts.


I believe in a better Antioch. I encourage and invite all of our community to join the Bridging the Gap discussions in the New Year and let's all make the right choice for change.



Fisher, B. W., Higgins, E. M., Kupchik, A., Viano, S., Curran, F. C., Overstreet, S., . . . Coffey, B. (2020). Protecting the Flock or Policing the Sheep? Differences in School Resource Officers’ Perceptions of Threats by School Racial Composition. Social Problems. doi:10.1093/socpro/spaa062

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