When Cops Go to School

(Originally posted on FireDogLake's the Seminal.)

As a growing number of advocates and scholars have observed, K-12 public schools around the country have increasingly come to rely on law enforcement officers, frequently referred to as School Resource Officers (SROs), to patrol school hallways. Unfortunately, these officers are frequently deployed without sufficient consideration as to how their presence might impact the overall educational climate of schools, how overzealous policing tactics might compromise the educational achievement of at-risk children, or how to ensure that these programs are subject to transparency and accountability.

That’s why, with the new school year getting underway, the ACLU released a white paper outlining best practices for the administration of SRO programs. In setting the tone for a productive school year, school districts with SROs should adopt the policies recommended in this document to ensure that students learn in a safe and respectful environment.

When SRO programs do not adequately define the roles of the SROs or their purpose, students suffer. In New York City, public school students have been arrested for minor disciplinary infractions like being late to class or bringing cell phones to school. In Florida, a 13-year-old was arrested for repeatedly passing gas in class; a Los Angeles, 16-year-old was arrested after she dropped a piece of birthday cake and failed to clean the mess to the satisfaction of the school resource officer; and a Minnesota 14-year-old was arrested for text-messaging in class.Arrests of students for such minor incidents do not promote a safe learning environment.

The impact on students of improper school-based arrests can be devastating. Studies have shown that getting arrested dramatically increases the likelihood of students dropping out of school and reduces students’ chances of succeeding academically. Students who are arrested and also have to appear in court are four times more likely to drop out of school, have lower standardized test scores, have reduced employment prospects and are far more likely to interact with the criminal justice system in the future. Additionally, children who witness fellow students being unnecessarily arrested tend to develop negative views or distrust of law enforcement, which may foster aconfrontational relationship between police and the communities they serve.

Busy school administrators may be tempted to rely on SROs for disciplining difficult students, and SROs, who may not be accustomed to working with youth, may unintentionally treat students like adults rather than children in school. Both the integrity of schools and the reputation of law enforcement agencies suffer as a result.

Given that police presence is increasingly commonplace in schools around the country, school districts must ensure that the relationship between police and the school communities they serve is respectful and productive. The ACLU white paper, which includes a model governance document, is designed to do just that.

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Maggie

Unfortunatley in this day and age, SRO offiers are needed in schools because of the violence that occurs. I believe that the cases you mentioned are certainly not something that should have happened. But you do not mention the cases where having an officer present has resulted in children being safe.

These officers should be trained to deal with children, however the child passing gas, the dropping of the cake and the txt message are probably something that happens all the time. Some people can belch when they want to and can probably pass gas when the want to, dropping food is a primary concern because it leads to litering etc, have you looked outside lately. Txt messaging should not be tolerated at schools.

Most of todays children feel that they can get away with anything. Schools can't say anything, they have no respect for authority and the first thing out of their mouths is I can call the police on you. It is time for the parents to start watching their children and become responsible for their behavior. Today it is always someone else's fault.

I belive that the message you are sending is that they can do whatever they want otherwise they will be scarred for life. Children that can do whatever they want tend to end up in jail also.

Steve

Police presence wouldn't be needed in our public schools today if those working in the education profession were allowed to use appropriate forms of disipline. As one who works in the public school system, I see first-hand the beligerence and lack of respect of our youth in today's society. Back in the early part of the last century, corporal punishment was a popular form of disipline, and as far as I know, we had no need of police officers patroling our halls, because a trip to the principal's office was enough to put fear in any kid who has ever had to take that walk. But now, as more and more schools do away with corporal punishment, what is the state of public education today compared to back in the day when our grandparents were going to school? We need law enforcement in our schools for a reason, to keep order in our halls and classrooms the school staff are not allowed to do for fear of an ACLU lawsuit. Maggie is absolutely correct on this, if children are allowed to do whatever they please with no consequenses, prison will be their only...and final...destination.

Paen

If any one in schools needs to be watched by the police it is those in the administrations who want to beat children.Furthermore you really have to be really sick if you want children arrested for farting.
If you people want to live in a police stat so much why don't you move to Iran or North Korea.The regimes there love discipline just as much as Steve and Maggie.

Brian

Police presence on school campuses has heightened over the recent years because of the lack of corporal punishment and because of this many students do not feel comfortable in an environment that they should be to adequately learn. Being arrested for passing gas or even texting should be unheard of because there is no real offense from such a minor wrongdoing.
If schools are going to permit SROs, then they should be trained to be around children. If they are not, the impact on students of improper school-based arrests can end up hurting their futures and cause negative views and distrust about law enforcement.
If schools were to keep SROs at a school, it should be because they are contributing to the schools safety and security, not disciple system. Many schools use detentions and saturday schools to prevent students from acting out against the school rules. Although it is not fearmongering, it gets the job done because students do not want to waste time outside of school to be in school.
With more on campus police, students and teachers can feel safer. Unlike the recent Hillsdale High School bombing, where a kid with a chainsaw, two foot sword, and several pipebombs, walked right in to a school hallway during school hours. Although no one was hurt, with more SROs to buff up school security and safety, in situations like this, students and teachers can be evacuated and protected from such violence. I do not agree with Steve and Maggie that if children do as they please, jail is their only option.

Maggie

Paen, if you would have read what I said I was not condoning corporal punishment I was stating the fact that parents need to be involved with their children and take the responsibility for their actions. I was not condoning arresting children for those minor infractions. I have a feeling that they were arrested for having a smart and vicious MOUTH of course that was not mentioned in the article.

Brian how can they feel safer if the ACLU does not want the SRO there? The kid that walked into the high school was he from a do as you please family? Was he such a nice boy that his parents or guardians can not believe how this happened? It must have been from TV and video games. Again under no supervision the old "do as I say not as I do".

Maggie

I forgot one thing. Paen the way the ACLU and the current administration are going those regimes will be here sooner than you think? The ACLU is probably getting ready to file a lawsuit against this new health care because it is not suppose to cover illegal immigrants. The govt now owns gm, banks, insurance, can tell companies how much of a raise or bonus a person may get and next health care. Sounds like we are on our way.

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