The nationwide protests against police brutality have once again raised the issue of the presence of officers on school campuses (“ ‘Police Do Not Belong in Our Schools.’ Students Are Demanding an End to Campus Cops After the Death of George Floyd,” Time, June 7). The debate has existed for at least two decades as a result of school shootings and other acts of violence.
I wonder, however, if those who oppose campus cops understand the full implications of their position. Although shootings in schools are rare, violence does exist. I attribute the change to the ruling in Goss v. Lopez in 1975 that students have the right to contest in court any decision made by teachers. As a result, teachers can no longer act in loco parentis. Since then, too many urban schools have experienced mayhem.
I can understand the opposition to police. After all, we don’t want to criminalize all disruptive behavior. But in today’s litigious society, school officials will be sued if they don’t take the safety of their students more seriously. Schools say that safety is their No. 1 priority. But unless they follow up on such proclamations, they are going to be hauled into court.
I think the best schools can do is to insist that all officers are carefully selected and trained to work with young people. Their presence may make some students feel intimidated, but that is a small price to pay to protect them.
(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)
2 Replies to “Police-on-campus debate intensifies”
Given the legal restrictions on school district employees physically touching students, seems that a police officer’s presence in a school building makes a lot of sense — particularly in middle/high schools. Also, to the extent that reformers advocate for “community policing”, seems that the police officer in a school is the perfect example of community policing. Young adults regularly see a police officer face-to-face (not riding in the police squad car) in non-confrontational situations. Those young adults in the future will — on average — see the cops more as human beings as a result of having seen the cop regularly in the school situation for six years.
Labor Lawyer: Not only that but campus police have been given special training to deal with young people. They can de-escalate conflicts before they get out of hand. Moreover, principals can’t be said to be negligent in protecting students.