In response to a tragic, fatal shooting at a Louisville school bus stop on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, some officials are calling for more policing, surveillance, and incarceration of our children. We've written to Mayor Fischer and Louisville Metro Council soundly rejecting these proposals and demanding Louisville redirect its bloated police budget to fund community programs that will actually support our children and keep them safe.
See our letter in the PDF at the bottom of this page.
In response to a tragic, fatal shooting at a Louisville school but stop, Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Chief Erika Shields called for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to have their own police department. That is the last thing students in JCPS or any other school district need. (Erika Shields was previously the Chief of the Atlanta Police Department. She resigned after officers killed Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's drive-through in June 2020.)
At a press conference on September 22, 2021, Shields said “JCPS has to have its own police department...there’s no two ways about it. The students and the teachers deserve that.” She also stated that “without having dedicated school resource officers who are trained in identifying gang members, identifying potential conflict, having that constant ongoing communication, we are lacking critical intelligence." Additionally, Shields said, "we can't sit here with our thumbs up our ass, do nothing different and think we won't be back at this podium."
The School-to-Prison Pipeline:
A wide body of research shows school resource officers increase negative and sometimes dangerous interactions between children and law enforcement. These interactions occur disproportionately between law enforcement and students of color, students with disabilities, and students from families with low incomes. As a result, children are burdened with the full weight of the criminal legal system simply for misbehaving, and some are even physically, mentally, and emotionally harmed in the process.
These interactions can range from getting handcuffed to youth incarceration. According to a national ACLU report, "nationally, Black students are more than twice as likely as their white classmates to be referred to law enforcement. Black students are three times as likely to be arrested as their white classmates, and in some states, Black girls are over eight times as likely to be arrested as white girls. During the 2015-16 school year, 1.6 million students attended a school with a sworn law enforcement officer and no counselor."
47% of Louisville's budget goes to "public safety." This bloated budget must be reallocated to community-based programs that truly support our children and keep them safe, and that protect all people equally under the law. Every child deserves access to safe and clean housing, quality public education, accessible and practical transportation, convenient and affordable groceries, first-rate healthcare, quality childcare, and – most importantly – equitable access to joy. Every child in Louisville is entitled to parks, pools, basketball courts, and libraries. We all know these are the true and undeniable hallmarks of a safe and thriving community.