The Divest/Invest Campaign is a multi-year initiative designed centers to shift state and local funding from criminalization and incarceration systems and into community-identified opportunities that actually create safety, equity and dignity.
The first part of this initiative will focus on shifting funding away from school resource officers (SROs) and into school programs, identified by students, teachers and parents, that support the well-being and attainment capacity of students. This will help disrupt the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipelines.
Why This is Necessary:
SROS increase the interaction of students with the police, replace instructive, student support with punitive, criminalizing punishment, and, by their presence, frame students as potential criminals first, and students and kids second. In fact, the mere presence of an SRO increases arrest rates of students by 500%-- feeding the school-to-prison pipeline.
In Arizona, interaction with law enforcement also means the potential to be ensnared in immigration proceedings. SB 1070 requires ALL officers to racially profile and question students and parents about their immigration status-- making school a hostile and dangerous place for students who are, or could be perceived as being, immigrants.
Removing SROs will create a safer learning environment for these students, and in the long-term, contribute to their capacity to build strong, stable lives after school. Students will spend more time being students and less time being treated as potential criminals. By removing SROs, schools will need to put effort into more constructive, healthy means of instructing students and handling disciplinary issues. The less students interact with the criminal justice system the less likely they are to have childhood decisions impact their whole lives. Students that stay out of the criminal justice system will have more opportunities to go to school, find stable, well-paying employment, and contribute to the overall health of their communities.
Divestment away from SROs and investment in students’ well-being is an example of how to build generational, restorative change.