The security chief for Chicago Public Schools vowed Monday to absorb a $5 million cut in annual security funding with no further cuts in the 153 uniformed police officers permanently assigned to high schools.
Chief safety and security officer Jadine Chou refused to reveal specifics of her plan to absorb that $5 million cut, according to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times, but she also said that “It is my charge to make the appropriate allocation changes. I’m not prepared to discuss how we will do that. But we will do it while maintaining the level of safety. That will not include reducing police presence inside the schools.”
Last year, high schools were offered $25,000 in cash for every police officer they agreed to give up in a move that CPS hoped would reduce the number of officers permanently assigned to the high schools from 200 to 60, freeing 140 officers for street duty, the article says.
At the time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was not certain that every high school needs two uniformed officers stationed inside at a cost of $25 million or if there was another more cost-effective way to provide the same level of security, the article says. The harder look at the security budget was prompted by a tripling in the annual tab for police service.
All but 16 of the 94 high schools ignored the offer and retained their uniformed police officers. Twelve of the 16 schools that took the money traded only one officer for an unarmed civilian security guard and kept the other cop. Only four schools let both officers go, the article says.
This prompted CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley to hint that further action could require principals to use their individual school budgets to subsidize police officers – Catalyst quotes Cawley as saying “Then, we will see how much they value them.”
Monday, Chou distanced herself from Cawley’s threat, disclosing that a more “holistic approach” aimed at preventing school security problems on the front-end has produced more positive results, the Sun-Times reports.
In-school student arrests for the most serious infractions are down 25 percent over the same period last year, and arrest for all infractions are down 23.6 percent, the article says.
Emanuel has urged CPS to review school safety plans in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead. On Monday, Chou said that she ordered schools to schedule three kinds of emergency drills – for fires, shelter-in-place for tornadoes and a “lockdown” drill for an active shooter scenario – as soon as possible after Christmas break. While these drills are meant to be help annually, some schools have not yet done them in conjunction with police and fire rescue teams, the article says.