AFT-WV has been alerted to concerns some members have regarding one of the resolutions passed during the 2020 AFT National Convention last week. We want to take the opportunity to clarify some points for those members with concerns.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that AFT-WV and our local affiliates are independent and autonomous as per our constitution and bylaws. There are occasions where the viewpoint of the national organization is different from that of AFT-WV, and this is such an instance.
In a resolution addressing police brutality, passed during the Convention, one of the bullet points advocates for removing police officers from schools. AFT-WV respectfully doesn't support this position as a one size fits all measure for school reform/police reform.
We recognize that not all states have had positive outcomes from the utilization of police officers in public schools. However, school resource officers have been beneficial in West Virginia schools, adding an extra measure of safety to our buildings as well as helping to build a community relationship with local law enforcement. Additionally, they play a vital role in the Handle with Care program to assist children in crisis. In some schools, these police officers even teach courses on criminal justice and forensic science and mentor students interested in law enforcement careers.
While AFT’s resolution does not specifically call for it, AFT-WV would like to make it clear that we do not support defunding the police. We believe other measures within AFT’s resolution, like increased education and training for police officers, a team of mental health professionals to assist police in calls involving mental health crises, and strict accountability with data reporting/tracking will have a greater impact on addressing the problem.