A state trooper conducts a routine patrol in Hartford in July 2020. When the siren is on, his body camera and the video camera in the police car automatically record. Yehyun Kim / CT Mirror

Dozens of bills from the Education Committee were sent to public hearing Wednesday morning and garnered nearly 12 hours of testimony. Among them was Senate Bill 1095: An act concerning school resource officers.

Senate Bill 1095 especially triggered emotional testimony from Black and Latino students who said they don’t feel safe with police officers at their schools.

One of those testimonies was from Andrea Kitchen-Walker, a New London resident, who recalled having the police called on her when she was an 11-year-old child trying to walk home after the school day instead of waiting for her mother to pick her up.

“The first squad car came with two officers, they picked me up a street away from the school and drove me back. When I arrived, the teachers were asked what they wanted to be done with me, and a second cop car [arrived] with two more officers — so a total of four officers for an 11-year-old child,” Kitchen-Walker said. “I verbally resisted and said I would rather wait for my mother, who wouldn’t be available until after six that day to pick me up, which for context was three hours passed dismissal. … With the realization I was in a situation with the police and no one to protect me, I started to panic and the officers misread my panic as aggression.”

Kitchen-Walker said she was “slammed up against the door” of the police vehicle and handcuffed so tight she had swelling for several weeks. She was taken to a local jail, and booked for three hours without her mother being notified.

She said the interaction gave her severe PTSD.

“I needed someone there who would listen to me and deescalate — not traumatize and book me like a criminal,” Kitchen-Walker said. “Had a bill like SB-1095 already been put in place, I truly believe that situations like mine would be handled differently.”

Residents commented on three other bills as well:

  • Senate Bill 1093: An act which would include phasing in a cap on class sizes, and requiring school districts with high suspension and expulsion rates to submit improvement plans to the Department of Education;
  • Senate Bill 1096: An act which would change the charter school approval process from a two-step system to one step;
  • House Bill 6757: An act that would revise how teachers are evaluated and their support programs.

Jessika Harkay is CT Mirror’s Education Reporter, covering the K-12 achievement gap, education funding, curriculum, mental health, school safety, inequity and other education topics. Jessika's experience includes roles as a breaking news reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Hartford Courant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Baylor University.