This open letter was submitted by an active Boston School Police Officer in response to our piece published on March 4th, the identity of the author is withheld for their own protection due to fears of retaliation by both School and Teacher’s Union Officials however we have confirmed it internally.
To our Politicians, Leaders, and Students,
I’ve loved this job since the day I started it. We have all heard the saying that if you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That used to be true for me, and true for a lot of us; however, the past several months have changed that. As a result of a tragedy that happened in another state and the anti-police rhetoric that followed, we’ve been forced to fight for not only our careers, but our existence on a daily basis.
It seemed to begin on the Boston Teacher’s Union (BTU) website when they proclaimed that the elimination of the Boston School Police was imperative to having “antiracist schools”. The implication that our very existence/job role is somehow racist is not lost on us; but what is lost on us is that they used that kind of language against us knowing the value that we bring to the school community. In fact, most teachers within the Boston Public Schools support us, but have told us time and time again that they are afraid to come out in support of us. The reason being that the leadership of the BTU will target them, painting them as being resistant to the desire for antiracist schools. The recent BTU voting to remove school police from BPS buildings was decided based on a mere 400 votes out of the unions 10,000 members, begging the question – whose voice did that vote truly represent?
The truth is that most teachers, parents, and students know that the Boston School Police are here to support them – with the primary goal, above all else, being to keep them and their children safe. It is as simple as that. The data inside the schools is clear: anything that can happen on a city street can happen in a city school. If the BTU members are prepared to wrestle on the ground with a suspect for control of a loaded firearm (as our officers have done on numerous occasions), then we will gladly accept being disbanded, but we all know this is not the case.
There have been numerous suggestions that the BTU has made that would undermine our ability to provide the safety that we strive for, some of which the Superintendent of BPS is seriously considering. One is to disband us completely, another is to transform us into a “safety team” or make us “restorative justice counselors”. These ideas simply are not realistic. All that this would accomplish is increasing the amount of times the Boston Police Department has to respond to BPS schools. The Boston Police are busy enough without that added stress. If the BTU truly cares about the School to Prison pipeline, then keeping BSP officers in schools is actually the best way to combat that. Our officers, who interact with these students on a daily basis, have a better chance of de-escalating students in crisis than a BPD officer off the street who is a stranger to that student. We KNOW the students in our buildings, we have relationships with them that have already been formed before conflict erupts. Removing us and replacing us with strangers, isn’t a step forward, it’s a step backward.
Many of our officers have been on the department for upwards of 20 years, the vast majority of us having secondary roles within BPS as fathers and mothers, coaches, mentors, and role models for this city’s youth. All we ask is that our work to keep Boston’s youth safe is remembered amidst these trying times, and the consequences of removing us and/or retitling our roles be seriously considered. We are often the first law enforcement personnel to interact with Boston’s youth – with the majority of these interactions being extremely positive and beneficial to our students.
We care deeply for Boston’s youth. That is why we signed up to do what we do. We also deeply care about the well being of our City. The advocacy groups that want us removed either don’t understand that or have an ulterior motive. Whichever the case is, our concern will always be the safety and security of the students and staff in our Boston Public School. Our record speaks for itself – anyone who challenges that quite frankly did not do their homework.