DES MOINES, Iowa — School officials said one driving force behind the removal of the school resource officer program within Des Moines Public Schools was that they believed students of color were disproportionately arrested.
Calls for service data provided to WHO 13 News by the Des Moines Police Department shows that despite being without the officers, calls for service requiring police assistance are down.
When taking a look at both the 2018 and 2019 school years, there is an increasing trend in calls of service to high schools before the COVID-19 school year of 2020, which was mostly online only for the district.
There was a total of 905 calls ranging from suspicious activity and theft to shootings and assault in 2018, and that number increased to 993 in 2019. Current data for the 2021 school year is only available from Aug. 9 through Oct. 11. When looking at calls for those dates in 2018 to DMPS high schools, the number of calls came in at 221 and increased to 228 in 2019. So far this school year and without the SRO program, that number is just 129.
The same trend can be found at the middle school level. From Aug. 9 through Oct. 11, there were 107 calls in 2018, 149 in 2019 and just 65 so far in the 2021 school year.
Taking a closer look at some of the more serious calls which include assault, sexual assault, narcotics activity, fights and gunshots at only the high schools, there were 37 of those calls in 2018, 42 in 2019 and just 20 during the 2021 school year.
- 2018 – 37 ( NARCOTICS 8, GUNSHOTS 5, ASSAULT 11, SEXUAL ASSAULT 2, FIGHTS 11)
- 2019 -42 (NARCOTICS 10, GUNSHOTS 0, ASSAULT 20, SEXUAL ASSAULT 3, FIGHTS 9)
- 2021 -20 (NARCOTICS 3, GUNSHOTS 0, ASSAULT 3, SEXUAL ASSAULT 1, FIGHTS 13)
The number of fights during the 2021 school year is an increase from the number of fights in both 2018 and 2019.
It is important to note that the data used is only for calls to an address related to school property and it does not include any calls involving students that occurred at a location off campus. Officials with the DMPD and DMPS were unavailable to comment on the data.