A critical report in The Guardian asks why our country is criminalizing normal childhood behavior:
In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 “Class C misdemeanour” tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.
In Rochester, parents, school board members and city council members have complained about the volume of student arrests. One solution – that no one ever brings up – is to simply not have officers in schools. An officer is required to uphold the law when he’s on duty. If he is expected to check his badge at the door, perhaps another adult is best-suited to enforcing discipline. It could be inappropriate and unethical for school officials to tell officers when they can and cannot make arrests in their buildings.
I’d love to see a comprehensive study on the impact of officers in schools. What are the costs and benefits? Do officers maintain their independence? Do schools with officers have a lower incidence of violence and other crime? What is the student arrest rate at schools with and without officers? What kinds of relationships do officers forge with students?
Since Columbine and the implementation of “zero tolerance” policies, few people have questioned the presence of school officers. I’m sure they do a lot of good and help many staff members and students. But that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit in a school system. I want to learn more.