Do police officers belong in public schools? | The Tylt

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Do police officers belong in public schools?
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A recent investigation found school resource officers in Chicago operate essentially without supervision or real training. High-profile incidents (like the student who was thrown on the ground in South Carolina) and troubling statistics have parents wondering if police officers should be stationed in schools at all. Critics say having law enforcement in schools is ultimately harmful for students. Proponents say officers play an important role in education and student safety. What do you think?

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Police officers are trained to combat crime and arrest criminals. They are not trained to counsel and teach students, yet that's how they're being used at schools. When police officers are brought into a situation at a school, they're bringing the full force of criminal justice system, whether the situation warrants it or not. 

"The reality is, cops are blunt instruments," says education reform advocate and editor of Dropout Nation RiShawn Biddle. "Cops are there to arrest people. It's what they do. Putting a cop in a school means you are subjecting your students, your children, to the possibility of being arrested and all the things that come with law enforcement."

Before police were common on school campuses, administrators largely had the discretion to choose how a student would be punished. Matters were often handled internally rather than by the criminal justice system because administrators recognized that minors had to be taught—not punished. 

"If the police intervene and have to get involved, there's a good probability that there's going to be an arrest," explains Chet Epperson, a retired Rockford, Illinois, police chief who is critical of the notion that law enforcement should handle school discipline. "We think that juveniles should be treated from a rehabilitation standpoint. Well, that sort of runs counter to having cops in schools."

Studies have found students who attend schools where officers are on campus are more likely to be arrested. Those who have been arrested are more likely to drop out. Those who drop out are more likely to have run-ins with the law. You see where this is going. Police officers on campus have a direct impact on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students' liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program's SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.
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However, not all resource officers operate the same way. Police officers in schools can be good and beneficial for more than just safety concerns with the proper training and situation. 

Understanding that I am interacting with a teenager, not an adult, dictates my demeanor. Also, during these situations, the rapport already developed with the students positively affects the outcome as well. Furthermore, when I can build trust as a school resource officer, it makes the school safer. Students are more comfortable talking to me about an array of things that may prevent a potential future situation from occurring.

One of the most important distinctions is to clearly delineate who the officer reports to and what the officer is responsible for. There are legitimate roles a police officer can play in a school.

It’s important to point out that I am an employee of the district as opposed to being employed by a local municipality. As a district employee, I am not only law enforcement at the school, but I also handle truancy, provide protection at school events, traffic control, and even give law-enforcement related presentations in classrooms.
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FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Do police officers belong in public schools?
#CopsOffCampus
A festive crown for the winner
#CopsProtectStudents