On Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Local Organizing Committee of the Millions More Movement sent a letter to Mayor George Heartwell and the Grand Rapids City Commission opposing a plan by Chief of Police Harry Dolan to permanently place GRPD officers in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Dolan has argued that fights and other incidents within the schools and at school-sponsored atheletic events warrants in the presence of an armed officer within each school. While there is no clear funding source for the proposal, Dolan presented the plan to a largely uncritical school board on Monday night according to the Grand Rapids Press. Dolan predicted that if the plan goes through, people would eventually want to bring armed officers into the middle schools. Already, the GRPD and the Grand Rapids Public Schools are finalizing a plan that would deploy police officers into the schools to make arrests after fights.
In the interest of presenting a critical perspective of the proposed plan, Media Mouse is reprinting the letter written by the Millions More Movement to the Mayor and the City Commission. It is printed in full below:
It has come to the attention of the Grand Rapids Local Organizing Committee of the Millions More Movement that Chief Dolan is proposing a plan to place Grand Rapids Police Officers in the Grand Rapids Public Schools to this honorable body. Chief Dolan recently presented the same proposal to the Grand Rapids School District. We, the members of the committee stand in absolute opposition to Chief Dolan’s proposal. Firstly, Chief Dolan has not presented the prerequisite evidence necessary that shows the need for such a presence and force in our schools. We are concerned that the need for such a presence is based on other factors besides what happens inside of our schools. Further, there are sociological factors within the community that the district serves that must be addressed. These factors ought not be addressed by a “no tolerance” policy such as the one sustained by GRPD, but facilitated by and through a peacekeeping force that recognizes the needs of the students and offers them solutions based on a careful and comprehensive study of the problems that exist within the community. The basis for bringing peace within the schools cannot be “guns and badges”, but a genuine love and understanding for the parties involved.
A recent discussion with Dr. Walter Milton, Superintendent of the Flint Public School District revealed that placing the police in schools in an urban district is potentially volatile. Dr. Milton observed that the students of his district were subjected to assaults by police officers and even were jailed for fighting. This raises the question: Will a fight at West Catholic or one of our other private schools be a suspendable offense, while one at our public schools may be a arrestable one?
In closing, the Grand Rapids Local Organizing Committee of the Millions More Movement is in receipt of an email correspondence from the Honorable Commissioner Paul Mayhue that was sent to us last summer. In it he details a plan for a gang summit that was to be held. He states that he invited Chief Dolan to take part in the summit but Chief Dolan digressed and stated that “if he came (to the summit) it would not be for peace, it would be to arrest”.
We hope that this Honorable body will not subject our youth to the type of scrutiny and abasement proposed by our Chief of Police, and that you will consider other avenues to insure a safe learning environment in our schools.