Mayor Ted Wheeler Removes Portland Police Officers From All Public Schools, Effective Immediately

The decision falls in the wake of citywide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

March on May 31, 2020. (Aaron Wessling)

Following pressure for criminal justice reform from city leaders and advocates, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is removing school resource officers from campuses.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero first announced the decision on Twitter Thursday morning for his district. Shortly after that, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was removing officers from PPS as well as the David Douglas and Parkrose school districts.

Wheeler claimed responsibility for the decision, which was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, and said he reached it a day before Guerrero made an announcement. WW has not independently confirmed that timeline.

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Wheeler said he is immediately removing the Portland Police Bureau's youth services division, effectively pulling all officers from public schools, and directing $1 million from the bureau's annual budget "to a community-driven process."

"Leaders must listen and respond to community," Wheeler said in a tweet Thursday. "We must disrupt the patterns of racism and injustice."

Portland Police Chief Jami Resch issued a statement about the decision.

"Over the last several years, there have been ongoing conversations about the police and their role in public schools," Resch said in a statement Thursday. "Some members of the community have expressed their concerns and desires for an alternative option to having police assigned to the schools. PPB is committed to listening to the community and adapting as needed to best meet their expectations."

Resch added that all school resource officers, called youth services division personnel, will be relocated to the bureau's operations branch.

"This decision is in no way a reflection of the amazing work and dedication school resource officers have provided for countless years," Resch said. "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. "

For years, local advocates, including Wheeler's mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, have called on the city to remove armed officers from public schools. But the issue gained steam in the past six days amid citywide demands for police reform following the death of George Floyd.

On Wednesday, Hardesty, as well asPortland School Board vice chair Rita Moore, called for the change.

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