LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Superintendent Austin Beutner says he will recommend LAUSD’s Board of Education eliminate the use of pepper spray and carotid holds in Los Angeles schools.
In his weekly briefing, Beutner said the district’s police force — which was formed in 1984 and operates separately from the LAPD or the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — will be part of the budget review caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the country but has the largest dedicated police force with more than 400 officers. The district says its force is the fifth largest in the state of LA County. Beutner says the district’s police force trains and investigates differently from other law enforcement agencies, has never fired a weapon on any campus, and last year investigated 150 threats of mass shootings at schools.
“But we cannot ignore legitimate concerns and criticisms that students and other members in the school community have about all forms of law enforcement,” he said.
Other forms of policing have already been reviewed and acted upon by the district. The district has already voted to eliminate random wanding for hidden weapons, a policy that will go into effect on July 1. And 10 years ago, 60,000 students days were lost to suspensions, a number that has been reduced to less than 3,000, Beutner said.
“But these actions are just part of the picture as the Los Angeles Unified needs to look much deeper at all the practices and schools in which school police are only one part,” he said.
Beutner also said he would ask a small group of community members to listen to students, families, school workers and the community on what is needed to keep schools safe and also stigma. That group will be asked to present their findings to the district’s school board.