After Many Years, Tucson Police Officers Roll Back Into TUSD Schools Today

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People protesting the resurrection of the School Resource Officer program before a Tucson City Council meeting a few weeks ago. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • People protesting the resurrection of the School Resource Officer program before a Tucson City Council meeting a few weeks ago.



The School Resource Officer program is alive again—after now six years—at some of Tucson Unified and Amphitheater school districts' middle and high school campuses. Officers started rolling back into eight facilities today.

The resurrection of the program concerned a lot of people, sparking protests over how SROs would deal with enforcement of Arizona's immigration law SB 1070—would they be allowed to interrogate a student over his or her immigration status?

There was a lot of back and forth on the deal between Tucson Police Department and the two school districts. Before it was finalized, the Tucson City Council ordered to add a clause in the contracts specifying that an officer could not look into students' immigration status. 

A few weeks ago, there was a protest outside the City Hall, before the City Council approved the amended deal—the one mentioned at the meeting concerned TUSD. Now, we know that cops can't interrogate anyone on their status, unless vital to a criminal investigation or with a parent, guardian or attorney present.

Still, some people were unhappy that cops were being allowed back in the school. At the council meeting that Tuesday evening, some argued the funds—$2.2 million—should be invested in other educational areas.

Talking about SB 1070, last month, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor announced the department would scale back on immigration status checks during arrests—only people suspected of threatening national security, having gang affiliations and/or previous felony convictions would be asked about their status.

The City Council is expected to look into how TPD has been enforcing SB 1070. At the last meeting I attended, the council members said they'd discuss that in the beginning of 2015. The first meeting of the year is today, but I didn't see anything related to SB 1070 on the agenda.

We'll see where that goes.





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