After dramatic cuts two years ago, the Los Angeles school police can no longer guarantee that an officer will be stationed inside campuses.
"The sad thing is we cannot give guarantees," superintendent Alberto Carvalho said about the safety of students.
The dramatic cuts have profoundly affected the Los Angeles School Police Department's personnel. In two years, the number of officers in the department has dropped nearly 20% from 374 to 300 sworn employees, and resulted in the resignation of then Chief Todd Chamberlain, according to the L.A. Unified School District.
"We're going to do all we can," said Carvalho.
However, estimates from Interim Chief Steven Zipperman show that the department has lost over 140 officers in the past two years. Despite the drastic reduction of officers, Zipperman said that the department can still guarantee the safety of students.
"We're about 230 strong," said Zipperman. "I think you have to understand we have a different service model."
The new service model will no longer station officers inside of the schools. Instead, they will only come to campuses when they are called.
"They'll call school police and we will respond accordingly," Zipperman said.
While police did respond accordingly after a parent allegedly attacked a student at Crenshaw High School last year, officers said that not being at the campus to begin with was a problem.
"This is a result of not having officers on campus, we used to have school police officers assigned here," LA school police union president Gil Gomez said. "A police car in front of the school to show that there was an officer on campus, or two, to make sure that kids were safe."
But with students returning to school after the summer break, parents and their children are looking for assurances from officials.
"She threatened to kill me," said 13-year-old Cloud Mejia.
Mejia said that in addition to the death threat, the 8th-grade student has seen several fights happening at school.
"I showed my parents this video of students fighting and they were like 'Why aren't the police there?'" Mejia said.
The fights, the death threat and the heightened fears of school shootings following the tragedy in Uvalde have left Mejia's parents deeply concerned with the safety of their 13-year-old.
"Of course, we're scared of all the shootings with kids," mother Aimee Mejia said. "It's a big worry for us."
Carvalho addressed concerns about safety by saying the district and department have fortified perimeters, reduced points of entry, installed security cameras, developed partnerships with other police agencies and created a new app for rapid alerts.
"Schools are the safest places for kids in our community," he said.
Even with the changes in the district's safety infrastructure, Mejia said she still wants officers back on campus.
According to officials, there were 803 crimes committed against people last school year. To compare, there were 54 instances, however, this was during the height of the pandemic. Officials did not specify what those crimes were.
CBSLA requested more detailed statistics about the crimes at LAUSD schools but has yet to receive that information.
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