Students, LAPD officers join march in effort to strengthen relationship with law enforcement

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When students in Los Angeles county return to campus, school police officers will be gone and will instead be replaced by staff trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

On Saturday, LAPD officers joined students and members of the community for a symbolic march across the First Street Bridge in Boyle Heights. The group dubbed the joint march "Good Trouble," marking the arrest of the late Congressman John Lewis 61 years ago as he fought for civil rights.

"Good Trouble for us today is all about reimagining public safety at our schools, in our communities, and for a lot of young people who are going to be here today to be a part of the process," said Daphne Bradford, the founder of Building Blue Bridges.

That organization works to build relationships between law enforcement and the youth, like Princess Adkins, for positive change.

"Since my grandpa is a retired LAPD officer, I just want people to understand that not all cops are bad. There are good ones out there," said the Hamilton High School student.

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The Los Angeles school board voted unanimously Tuesday to replace school police officers on campuses with staff trained in de-escalation strategies and conflict resolution.

Last week, the Los Angeles school board voted unanimously to cut 133 school police positions -- 70 sworn employees, 62 non-sworn employees and one support staff member. The staff reductions reduce the school police department's annual budget from $77.5 million to $52.5 million.

Instead of officers, school climate coaches will be stationed at all secondary schools. Officers will remain on call to respond to emergencies and incidents on campuses with a goal of a three-to-five minute response time.

"They did a survey after they made a decision to defund the L.A. school police, and in the survey, the parents and the kids didn't find a problem with the school police being on campus," Bradford said.

The mile-long march to the LAPD headquarters was only the first step. The group held a cultural sensitivity summit to address the consequences of defunding the police and what policies they'd like to see implemented within the department.

Nikaya Coleman said she's like more officers dedicated to mental health.

Following the summit, the group says they plan on taking some of the policies they came up with Saturday and present them to Mayor Eric Garcetti in the hopes of implementing them.

"I think policies that have certain subgroups of police officers that handle that situation would really benefit the organization and how people see them as a whole," said the high school senior.
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