Police in Schools: What is their role?

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What?
In the wake of numerous acts of school violence, especially in recent decades, many parents, teachers, students, etc. have begged for larger police presence on school grounds. In the hopes of increasing security and safety, law enforcement on school campuses has become the norm for most school districts across the nation. While I do feel that there presence is warranted and necessary, there seems to be some backlash from their being there. 
Hundreds of thousands of students, maybe even millions, are being arrested for things that were once handled in the principles offices. I read a number of stories in which students were arrested for the smallest of “crimes” (i.e. farting in class, spraying perfume, arguing (mind you this level of arguing is more debate-like and did not involve any level of abuse, verbal or physical)). So how did the tables turn so quickly? How did students go from being kids to criminals?  
So what?

As stated previously, the crimes many students are being arrested for were once handled by school officials. Students are still receiving detention, suspension, and other forms of punishment for their actions, but many are being arrested without even considering the consequences their arrest might have on their life. The fines alone can be the difference of some poorer families being able to afford their rent, electricity, food. But even more than that, we know that having a criminal record is a slippery slope for many adolescents. Furthermore, students and parents (many of whom do not have legal aid) plead guilty in the hopes of simply putting the matter to rest, not realizing the consequences it will bring. See the following disconnect between what we should be doing vs. what is happening now for an example of these consequences. 

The Disconnect: 

“Our purpose is to push these kids into college, not into the criminal justice system.” (Eckholm, 2013) – With Police in Schools, More Children in Court

vs.

‘”Once you pay it, that’s a guilty plea and that’s on your record,” said Simpkins. “In the US we have these astronomical college and university expenses and you go to fill out the application to get your federal aid for that and it says have you ever been arrested. And there you are, no aid.”‘ (McGreal, 2012) – The US schools with their own police

There seems to be a difference in the planning for policies for police presence in schools and the implementation of those resources officers. Surely, the policies weren’t intended to have such defective effects, but they have.
What now? 
Perhaps it would be best to reevaluate the policies and the roles of these officers. They are there for a reason, so they absolutely should be used when necessary–but there’s more work to be done in deciding when that should be. In the articles shared, I also read about many police forces that are trying to better equip their men and women to better determine when arrests are necessary, teaching them the difference between a scuffle and an assault. Additionally, the use of student juries and school administrators to better deal with the more trivial issues should be considered. Resource officers can still do their job in reporting them, but an official arrest would not be necessary. With the increasing number of law enforcement officials in school, these options should be considered immediately. 

 

photo source: clutch mag online 

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