Oakland educators, parents explain why they want district police department eliminated

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Wednesday the Oakland Unified School Board will vote on a measure that would eliminate the school's police department.

Monday more than 200 people rallied outside the Oakland Unified School District Headquarters.

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"At this point in time we are no longer asking for anything, we are demanding it and taking it. Police have to go," says Jessica Black with Black Organizing Project.

Hundreds of educators, principals, parents, and community members took to the streets outside of the Oakland Unified School District Monday on foot and in cars. They want the district's police department eliminated.

"I don't think police have any place in schools," says one teacher who didn't want to give us her name.

District Police Chief Jeff Godown will lose his job if the department is eliminated, but despite that, believes it is time for change.

"What's been going on hasn't been working so really what have we got to lose to try something different?" he asked.

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While many at this rally say they don't want officers in schools, Chief Godown says his officers are currently not assigned to specific schools.

Instead, they respond to 1,000 calls from Oakland schools per semester, 300 of which are serious and would fall on Oakland police to respond. The school would then need to focus on those other calls that aren't as serious.

"The key is to being able to deal with the 700 calls so they don't fall into that 300," says Chief Godown.

Teachers at this rally tell us that the pressure has already been on them, so doing away with the department wouldn't be a major deal. They say they are the ones who can deescalate the toughest of situations.

"When you know students by name and you can call them by name then they stop fighting," said one educator. Another said that if there was a school shooting they wouldn't be able to rely on officers. "Police would never get there in time for a school shooter, that would be on me as a teacher."

On Wednesday the Oakland school board will vote on this measure which if passed would eliminate the district's police department by the end of the year.
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