Pomona school board hires school officers, changing course on 'defund the police'

The agreement has since been approved by the Pomona city council.
POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Pomona Unified School Board voted unanimously to hire two school resource officers, less than four months after the board had approved a budget that did not include funding for the community school resource officer program.

"This is a decision we don't take lightly," said board member Adrienne Konigar-Macklin. "I do not believe in a police state for our students."

The board approved an agreement with the Pomona police department to hire the officers immediately. The agreement has since been approved by the Pomona city council.

"We're going to look at individuals who relate to our students and who are there not to criminalize them, or imprison them, or give them a notch on their record, but to help them," said school board member Lorena Gonzalez.

According to the agreement, the officers will serve in the role of "law-related educators, problem-solvers and community liaisons."

A spokesperson for the Pomona police said the officers who are hired will receive additional training specific to their assignment. Those courses will include training for restorative justice practices, procedural justice, trauma-informed practices, diversity and de-escalation.

Pomona police said they're also looking into a non-traditional uniform - for example, slacks and a polo shirt.

Still, several people spoke out against the decision.

"We don't need police on campuses," said Arlene Alonso, a youth organizer with the group Gente Organizada. "You cannot and should not trade a badge for a mental health degree."

However, others spoke out in favor of hiring even more police officers, saying two of them aren't nearly enough to cover the entire school district.

"Please do not be bullied by a certain number of people who have the audacity to say that cops don't keep kids safe," said M. Joyce Baker-Smith, addressing the school board. "They do keep kids safe. They keep us all safe."

A spokesperson for the school district would not answer specific questions as to why the school board changed course after only about four months.

The following statement was provided to Eyewitness News:

"Pomona Unified School District enjoys a positive and productive relationship with the local LA County Sheriff's Department related to our Diamond Bar Schools, and an equally beneficial relationship with Pomona PD for our Pomona-based school sites.

"Our goal has always been, and will continue to be, the overall health, wellness, and safety of children. Our law enforcement partners greatly aid our mutual efforts in ensuring that each child within PUSD enjoys his/her/their right to a quality education free from threats to their safety.

"To that end, we will continue to work with our local agencies to help us better protect and serve the families in our Diamond Bar and Pomona communities."

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