Cops on Campus: What Do You Think?

police-officer-in-schoolPlacing police officers on school campuses is nothing new. But in response to the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere, the idea is gaining traction. It’s also coming under fire by some youth advocates, judges and criminologists.

With both the White House and a National Rifle Association task force calling for more police officers based in schools, this approach to school safety is getting a closer look.

A recent New York Times article examines the effectiveness, and some of the unintended consequences, of hiring police officers to deter crime and keep students safe from each other. The article reports a surge in arrests or misdemeanor charges against children in schools where officers are stationed. Critics charge that most of the cases are essentially nonviolent — scuffles, truancy, cursing at teachers — that are better handled in the principal’s office.

As Denise C. Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who studies school violence, told the Times: “There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety. And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police, pushing kids into the criminal system.”

Civil rights groups, including the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project, object in a recent report to the disproportionate number of arrests and citations given to students who are black, Hispanic or have disabilities.

In Texas, where police officers based in schools reportedly write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets each year, youth advocacy and civil rights groups have filed a complaint with the federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

However, in parts of the state, according to the Times article, the outcry may be changing the approach to policing in schools:

With new guidelines and training, ticketing within the Houston schools was reduced by 60 percent in one year. Citations for “disruption of classes,” for example, fell to 124 between September and February, from 927 in the same period last year.

“Writing tickets is easy,” one of the Houston officers told the Times. “We do it the hard way, talking with the kids and coaching them.”

What do you think?


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CHARACTER COUNTS! offers workshops and training seminars to improve the climate of a school, supplanting coarse and violent behavior with a culture of respect and kindness. Learn more »

Photo: Dallas Morning News

12 thoughts on “Cops on Campus: What Do You Think?”

  1. Why not?
    Plenty of elite private schools have armed security guards.
    Doesn’t seem to bother the president’s daughters any.
    Security is more important now that the courts don’t keep these violent perps in jail so they get a second chance to kill someone.
    e.g., the recent incident in Chicago where the young girl was killed in a park by a young man who was recently released for prior violent acts.

  2. As a retired investigator and police supervisor I find This article is so ridiculous that I’m unsubscribing from this organization. The whole assertion that having police in schools unnecessarily subjects children to criminal to prosecution is just ridiculous! i also don’t buy the statement that police presence doesn’t increase school safety? Really? Come on!

  3. As long as the number of students lacking effective parental/home-based supervision, guidance and support continues to increase, yes, direct intervention by school resource officers into acts of violence or acts which serve to disrupt a teacher’s ability to teach and/or a fellow student’s ability to learn is absolutely necessary.

  4. It really depends on the role of the officer in the school – high schools in this region have between 1000 and 1500 students and hundreds of teachers and staff. I makes sense to have an easily accessible law enforcement presence when this many people are in a concentrated area. The officer gets to know the students – the same citizens he/she and fellow officers interact with in the community. If done properly, the school police officer is seen as part of the entire community.

  5. We seem to be a knee-jerk society and this seems to be another example of this. I can see merit in a police presence, but as the article states, unintended results have occurred. Before we legislate ourselves into another dead-end, we need to rationally and apolitically examine the problem and hear from experts. Then we can make informed and researched decisions.

    I don’t believe that any place can be made completely safe…this side of heaven. But with thoughtfulness, we can make our environment safER.

  6. Of course we need security guards at schools! We have them in lots of other places, so especially schools. It only makes sense to protect students and staff from unstable people who do crazy things.

  7. Having armed guards at school is certainly a better option than arming teachers, which is a proposal I have seen often since Sandy Hook. But having been in the teaching profession for over 30 years, I agree with the article that most of the incidents aren’t really ones that require police presence. What we need to do is bring back basic discipline and empower teachers and administrators to follow through on that discipline.

  8. To the author of this article: Before asking for public opinions, I think that you should start with writing a balanced article, presenting both pros and cons. From the tack you’ve taken, it’s pretty obvious what YOU think.

  9. School Resource officers all the way. They are there for safety and security. The school does not have to involve the SRO for everything, but he is there when a big crisis occur. I don’t want to put kids in jail for little things, but they need to know that the reality of life is that there are consequences. As a parent, I want to know that my child will be protected and that my child has options. I also want my child to know that they need to be careful about the choices they make.

  10. There are two types of crimes being committed. Criminal and bullish behavior that happens in school committed by attending students, and intruders or students who cause violent crimes against multiple students. I think security helps stop massive victimization. For the other, however, it would be nice to see the behavior change. The reality is…..if you commit an offense there is a consequence. Whether given by a security officer or a principal, the penalty should remain the same.

  11. We used to have an onsite sheriff at our school for years. But because of budget cuts, we had to let them go. The school district has to pay the salary and benefits of all onsite police officers. The officer was very helpful for drug related issues and harrasment issues. The officer gave talks on drugs and alcohol and cyber bullying in the classrooms. The kids liked interacting with the officers and the officer was included in our community. But who is going to pay for it? We are already working on shoestring budgets. We are running out of paper, and ink, books, and our copy allowances have dwindled. We have never needed an officer for their guns and hope we never do. When teachers retire, we don’t rehire, we jam more kids in our classrooms. I would really like to hire an additional caring and compassionate teacher, than a police officer…because lower class size benefits all kids every day!

  12. I have worked in several different schools for the past 38 years. One of the reasons school climates are so poor and unsafe in many schools is because they try to keep everyone around when the best thing to do is to remove those that will not comply with the rules. Administrators can still make the decision whether or not a student should be arrested, but you can’t make me believe a school is not safer with police officer on site. That is ridiculous. As someone said eariler, the President has no problem having his children guarded.

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