The D.C. Council passed an amendment to remove the contract for public school security from the Metropolitan Police Department. The move was blasted by the mayor as a "shell game."
The amendment grants D.C. Public Schools the authority to hire and contract security officers. It was introduced by Councilman David Grosso and passed in an 8 to 5 vote.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the council is considering a strategy that already failed in the 1990s. She said the chancellor needs to be focused on education and is working on ways to carry out schooling during a pandemic.
"And now they also have to run a security contract?" She asked. “The council, in my view, has offered no justification for doing that."
Under a 2004 law, the Metropolitan Police Department's School Safety Division currently oversees security on campuses.
The new amendment stipulates that schools will coordinate safety plans with police and the local homeland security agency.
It also says that starting in 2021, D.C. schools must move away from D.C. police's security training practices. Instead, security guards would be trained with a "positive youth development philosophy."
The next vote on the amended budget is scheduled for later this month.
Black Swan Academy, an organization calling for police-free schools, said moving the contract from the police department to school officials is "a small and important step."
Momentum has built to radically change the city’s approach to policing, in and out of schools, since the killing of George Floyd and racial justice demonstrations nationwide starting in late May.
But an emergency bill with new use of force and other restrictions was replaced by a bill with modifications. Critics say it weakened the original version.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the first emergency bill took too many drastic actions without properly reviewing the ramifications.
The new bill gives the police department five days instead of three after a deadly use-of-force to release officer's names and body camera footage, WTOP reported.
Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Allen said there will be public hearings to gather input for permanent legislation.