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.
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