DENVER — For the last eight days in Denver, protesters have been asking for change. Many want to see immediate police reform.
That's where the Denver Public School (DPS) System is turning its attention, proposing a resolution that would remove Denver Police (DPD) officers from DPS entirely.
> Watch the DPS press conference from Friday morning in the video above.
"We want to make sure all students in all of our schools, especially our students of color, feel safe and protected," said school board member Tay Anderson on Thursday.
As a member of the Denver Board of Education, Anderson is leading the charge to end the district's contract with the DPD.
"For decades, Padres & Jovenes Unidos has been organizing about getting cops out of schools," Anderson said. "We have heard their direct as,k and now it's time for us to act. There is no better time to act than now."
Anderson and Jennifer Bacon, DPS school board vice president, introduced a resolution Friday morning on the steps of West High School to end the district's contract with the DPD. If the board approves, it would remove DPD officers from schools in Colorado's largest school district. It would be a change to a system of policing that many feel targets students of color.
9NEWS talked with three current and past DPS students about their experience with police at school.
Ashira Campbell, 17, a student at DSST: Byers High School; Elijah Wayne Beauford, a 2017 graduate of Manuel High School, and Sam Elway, 19, a 2019 graduate of AIM Global, said they are ready to see more representation of color and less correction.
"We don't feel protected when cops are around," Beauford said. "I have never felt protected in my entire life growing up in the school system where I felt like, 'Oh the cop is here. Now I know everything is going to be all right.' "
"If school is a place I have to be at for at least six hours, knowing that I have to deal with the possible harassment of my color at school, that alone keeps my mind off my education," Elfay said. "At the end of the day we gotta realize, if we don’t feel protected with police officers at school, why are they there?"
"My school being predominately white," Campbell said, "it’s really hard even just going to school daily being targeted just for the color of my skin and for being a woman.
"At this point, change needs to happen right now," she said.
All three students agree, representation of color is key.
"When officers are in schools that are predominately Caucasian, you see more people respecting them because they understand where they come from. They understand their culture. They understand who they are as a people," Beauford said. "We need that same representation and we don't always need it with a blue badge."
According to Anderson, the DPS district has 135 safety and security officers on staff. He would like to see the district rely on those officers, as well as mental health resources, school nurses and other mentors more than police if this passes.
Anderson said it would cost the district more, but also feels it would be worth it.
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the correct number of safety and security officers which is 135. DPS has 18 SROs.
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