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Youth Advocates Urge Portland School Board To End Contract For Police Officers At High Schools

Youth advocates are calling on the Portland School Board to remove police officers from schools. The board will hold a hearing Tuesday evening on a resolution to end the district's contract with the Portland Police Department for two officers at Portland and Deering high schools.At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Deering High School student Gabriel M'bambi said that while the school resource officers - or SROs - themselves are well liked, their presence can intimidate students.

"I've seen teachers that can't control a problem, or adults within the school that aren't able to control the situation of what's going on, then call the SRO to then maybe scare the students, or as an intimidation tactic," M'bambi said. "And I don't believe that's a way that we should be working."

M'bambi was joined by other students and activists, as well as Portland School Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez.

Joseph Inabanza attends Casco Bay High School, the only high school in the city without an SRO, and he said that feels much safer for him. "I have the police outside my house, outside neighborhoods, why in the schools?" he said. "The one place they should not be in, they are in."

In recent weeks, cities including Denver and Portland, Oregon have voted to remove school resource officers from their schools.

A recent survey found that the majority of students at Portland High School liked having an SRO in school. But recent data from the ACLU has found that schools with police have reported three-and-a-half times more arrests than those without.

The Portland School Board is set to begin discussing the policy on Tuesday night and could vote on it by the end of the month.