Lincoln, NE – Nebraska lawmakers are considering a bill that calls for the state to eliminate school resource officer (SRO) positions.
“[Schools] are not prison barracks,” Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers said, according to the Omaha World-Herald. “You should not have armed police in these schools, especially when there is such a bad reputation that they have.”
Chambers, 81, has also likened law enforcement officers to ISIS, FOX News reported.
"Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do us daily," he has said.
He said he introduced LB 589 in an effort to remove SROs from Nebraska’s schools altogether, and alleged that such programs target students of color and students with disabilities, according to the Unicameral Update.
Chambers argued that the schools should be handling student issues, and that involving SROs only contributes to the “toxic, discriminatory impact” that exists in society as a whole.
“It is counterproductive to the purpose and goals of education and its processes, to convert conduct that in the past was handled within the school context, into a basis for arrest and entanglement in the court system with the possibility of being locked up,” he declared.
Law enforcement officers would still be allowed to respond to the school for emergencies and to conduct extra security during extracurricular events under the new bill.
Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks has also introduced an SRO-related bill this session – one that aims to keep armed officers in the schools, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
LB 390 would require a memorandum of understanding between school and police that would establish a procedure to determine when students should be prosecuted, when their parents should be notified, and when other resources might be more appropriate.
“I do not believe that most parents want our juvenile justice system having jurisdictions over things that should be handled through restorative justice, conflict resolution training, as well as school disciplinary measures,” Pansing Brooks explained.
Although no law enforcement officers testified against Pansing Brooks’ bill, some did testify against Chambers’ bill, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
One section of the bill discussed “development of respect for the American flag as a symbol of freedom and the sacrifices of those who secured that freedom.”
Chambers seemed to take particular issue with the definition of “respect.”
“What do white people mean by it and what do black people mean by it?” Chambers railed on the legislature floor. “White people mean we’ve gotta bow down to what they tell us as black people to bow down to.”
“I don’t come here for this rag every day, and it’s a rag. That’s all it is to me,” he said, speaking of the American flag. “When you show a way to persuade Jews to sanctify and worship the swastika — when you show me that I’ll come up here and stand while you all hypocritically pretend that rag is something that it definitely is not.”
State Senator Tom Brewer, a 30-year military veteran, struggled to hold back tears as he spoke out about Chambers’ comments on Feb. 20, The Washington Times reported.
“It rips our heart out to hear someone say that they refer to the flag as a rag because for those of us that have brought home those that we’ve lost, it’s hard to refer to the flag as a rag because you have to fold it and you have to give it to the parents,” Brewer said. “That’s awful hard to do.”
Chambers, who has been in office since 1971, also tried to sue God in 2007 for using natural disasters for the “destruction and terrorization of millions,” The Washington Examiner reported.
The lawsuit was meant as a joke to highlight other frivolous lawsuits, but many people took it seriously, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit due to a lack of address for God.
“Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice,’’ Judge Marlon Polk wrote in his decision.