Beaverton City Council votes to keep armed officers at schools

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KGW) — After hours of debate and deliberation Tuesday evening, the Beaverton City Council approved to keep armed police officers in the district in a 5-2 vote. Council members Nadia Hasan and Kevin Teater both voted no while the other five voted for the two-year contract.

“The vote in front of us last night was not ‘do we want [youth services officers] in the school district or not,'” said Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty. “But it was ‘do we want to be a service provider’ and this is what the school district is asking us.”

This two-year contract will be between the city of Beaverton, the district and other agencies, as they will divide the cost for the armed officers.

The council also announced a name change — school resource officers will now be referred to as youth services officers. This way they can work with youth year-round and not just during the school year.

“You know, that was really at the direction of our police chief,” Beaty said. “She wanted to have officers that their entire focus was around young people, not only when they are working in the schools, but the times when they’re not assigned to the schools. We are really investing a lot in training and in them. And that takes them off the line so they’re not part of our regular rotation of officers who are getting called.”

The council also voted on youth services officers’ duties.

Some of them consist of:

  • Supervising after-school activities
  • Taking reports on drugs, alcohol and harassment
  • Patrolling the school
  • Responding to serious calls, like an active-shooter incident
  • Answering questions from students, staff and parents/guardians attending safety meetings

“Given the sensitivity of police in school and the voices of our community, I believed strongly that the recommendations were a direct ask from our community to create safe spaces in our schools for all of our students,” Hasan said. “The expert recommendations from the SeeChange consultant were largely ignored in the intergovernmental agreement (IGA).”

Hasan said that one of the primary recommendations focused around updating the IGA to be more specific around the program.

“For me, it was not specific enough,” she said. “There are hard questions to ask and hard questions are not popular or easy. I was elected to use my voice to ask the hard questions, and I did that by voting no on the IGA.”

Beaty told KGW that youth services officers will no longer be involved in the discipline of students or responding to mental health crises, unless the student is a risk to themselves or others.

The Beaverton Education Association (BEA) said it believes these funds could be better spent elsewhere.

“If we’re looking at resources for police on campus versus more mental health support on campus, I think our association is always going to lean toward we need more resources for mental health on campus,” said Lindsay Ray, president of BEA. “We need more resources for just general support of students who are struggling.”

Beaty said quarterly reportings will be provided to the city council to ensure proper training on LGBTQ+, neurodivergent and refugees is provided to teachers, administrators and youth services officers.

These changes could be implemented as soon as the school year starts back up next month.

UPDATE: After publication of this article, Beaverton city councilor Kevin Teater sent KGW the following statement:

We heard very clearly from our community and from the results of the SeeChange report that the presence of law enforcement makes it difficult for some of our most marginalized students to feel safe in our schools.

Because the City of Beaverton is bearing the large majority of the cost of this program (80%) this year, I do feel we have a responsibility to determine if and how law enforcement will be in schools.

Ultimately, I did not see enough application of the SeeChange report’s recommendations, especially regarding the report’s recommendation not to provide YSOs with designated office space on campus.

As a result, I voted No on the YSO IGA, and I hope that Beaverton School Board has the opportunity to discuss the future of this program in more detail.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content