Police in Schools Increases Student Arrests
Reforming school discipline policies isn't just about eliminating harsh zero-tolerance policies and implementing programs centered on restorative justice. We also need to change how those policies are enforced and who enforces them. A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Citizens for Juvenile Justice, "Arrested Futures: The Criminalization of School Discipline in Massachusetts' Three Largest School Districts," examines the rate at which Massachusetts' three largest school districts - Boston, Springfield and Worcester - use on-site police officers to arrest students for minor, non-violent infractions that could have more appropriately been dealt with by administrators.
The study finds that all three school districts overuse "public order" offense as justification for arrests, particularly Springfield where the police officers at the schools report to the Chief of the Springfield Police Department rather than the school district. And as with other harsh discipline policies, students of color are disproportionately affected by these policing practices.
Rather than contribute to the criminalization of youths, districts should strive to remove on-site police officers and develop in-school alternatives to arrest. The report also suggests that money now spent on in-school police should be reallocated to provide training for staff and administrators to better handle behavioral problems and minor offenses.