Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Quandary

I only have ever seen a Police Officer in one public school. This school really does need to change its name to School for Scandal, from rape charges, to sexual harassment to sex with teachers, to testing riots, to selective teaching and privileges for athletes, this school has it all. It professes to be the school where Jimi Hendrix went, what is neglected is that he went for barely a year and when presented with an honorary degree he rejected it and the city of his birth.

This school that goes without some 'incident' is well unusual and the Police on site are utterly a waste of time but they are there.

So how did Police become a presence in our schools - thank Bill Clinton and his role in the prison complex and thank Obama for continuing the practice.

But what I find odd is that we arrest parents for letting kids walk home alone, play in a park alone, for being truant, for sitting in the car or whatever strange arbitrary reason yet we never arrest parents when their children commit crimes including school related ones. Why is that? (I know why, money and time and those are two valued resources schools have little of)

I am a great believer that kids are just reflections and that much of their behavior in schools are just that. So while there is this move to have restorative justice as a means of resolution and that schools are trying to teach mood and behavior management a la "Inside Out,"  I rarely see or read how parents are involved and engaged. I believe that learning contracts are necessary and that both children and their parents should sign them as they are minors and these are contracts which are legal documents indicating understanding and acceptance to terms of agreement. Funny kids do that with cell phones and social media sites but no schools have students and their parents comply with what is expected. for them to continue to be enrolled and attend the school.  And the school should have just as many expectations and follow thru on their end to ensure that all parties are working together.  Why not?

But in the meantime we evoke zero tolerance and well we have the schoolyard to prison pipeline. This may be why.

'Good guys' with guns: how police officers became fixtures in US schools

The 1990s-era ‘tough on crime’ movement that encouraged police inside schools has expanded under Obama, despite the lack of consensus it improves safety
police schools

Jessica Glenza
The Guardian
Wednesday 28 October 2015  
Richland County sheriff Leon Lott announced on Wednesday he would fire senior deputy sheriff Ben Fields for yanking a high school girl from her desk and dragging her across the floor in a South Carolina classroom, and that video of the incident gave him “heartburn”.

“He picked a student up, and he threw a student across the room,” Lott said. “That’s what caused me my heartburn, and my issues with this.”
South Carolina sheriff fires deputy seen manhandling teenage girl in video
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But Lott directed criticism not just at Fields, but at a South Carolina law that he said empowers cops to mete out too much discipline in classrooms.

“Maybe that’s something that should have been handled by the administrator, without ever calling the deputy,” Lott said. “I didn’t pass the law. It’s something that’s been put on us, and I’ll be one of the first ones to say that it’s been abused in the past.”

South Carolina is far from alone in intermingling policing and education.

In the last 25 years, sworn police officers have become a fixture of the US’s public education system, the vast majority armed with the power to arrest and interrogate students, often, advocates say, without the constitutional protections that children might be afforded on the street.

“The two most significant factors in a decision to include heavy security measures – which includes police – is the race of the students and the poverty level,” said Harold Jordan, the senior policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who has worked extensively on issues involving law enforcement in schools. “So we know that there is a problem, and the problem is not just located in South Carolina.”

The 1990s-era “tough on crime” movement that encouraged educators to place local police inside schools has been under increasing scrutiny in the last five years, as these policies disproportionately impact students of color and allegedly criminalize adolescent behavior. But an uneasy expansion of the programs has taken place even under the Obama administration, despite the lack of consensus that they improve school safety.

Concerns about such programs have raised enough concern for the nation’s highest education authority, the US Department of Education, to investigate.

Statistics culled by investigators at the Office of Civil Rights found black students were disproportionately arrested or referred to law enforcement at school. In 2014, the department found 260,000 students of America’s 49 million were referred to police. Black students represented 27% of law enforcement referrals, despite making up only 16% of enrollment. White students, meanwhile, comprised 41% of referrals, but 51% of enrollment.

Even the Justice Department has taken notice, suing a few school districts that routinely used police to enforce disciplinary infractions. “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” attorney general Eric Holder said last January.

In just the last 12 months, school resource officers have been involved in several high-profile use-of-force incidents.

In Colorado Springs, an officer punched a 15-year-old girl in the face when trying to break up a fight. Police said the force was justified and returned the officer to his job at the high school. The two students involved were ticketed and suspended.
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An officer in Kentucky punched a 13-year-old student in the face in the cafeteria in front a large portion of the school (including teachers) for allegedly cutting the lunch line. The officer arrested the student on menacing and resisting arrest charges. The next day the officer returned, placed a different 13-year-old in a chokehold until he lost consciousness, handcuffed the student, kept him out of class and then drove him home.

School district officials said the punching incident was, “in front of everyone. It was in the cafeteria, so we were aware of it.” Asked by local reporters why the school resource officer wasn’t immediately removed, the spokesman refused to comment, and said he didn’t know how such incidents were investigated. The officer’s supervisor was also apparently shown a video of the incident, but did nothing to prevent the officer’s return the next day.

Even before the officer punched the student in the face, community members criticized his behavior. He was named in a civil lawsuit alleging he and three other police officers physically and verbally abused children at a summer camp program called the Gentleman’s Academy, according to WLKY.

“I worked with, I think, five SROs, and I would say four of the five were effective, and one in particular had that very quick trigger,” said Spencer Weiler, an education professor at Northern Colorado University. He was a middle school administrator and teacher for more than 14 years before becoming a researcher who studied school resource officers. Weiler described an incident where a student got “belligerent” with an officer.

“Within seconds, the SRO had this student face down in the countertop in the front office, and in handcuffs, and I was like, ‘What is going on? Why is this person reacting this way?’” said Weiler. “We had a conversation with him after the fact.”

The Education Department’s study counting arrests is one of the most comprehensive. Research into the effectiveness of SROs has been criticized as “limited”, both by the small number of studies and for lack of rigor, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report.

Meanwhile, millions in federal grants have flowed to the programs.

“Nobody knows exactly how many officers are in schools,” said Jordan. The best estimates of roughly 19,000 is from an eight-year-old Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

Over the last two decades, Democrats have been ardent pushers of SRO programs.

After shooters at Columbine high school in Colorado killed 13 people and injured 20, president Bill Clinton and congressional lawmakers quickly dedicated an initial round of funding to Cops in Schools, or Cops grants.

The number of positions that program created is a best guess – in 2004 the National Association of School Resource Officers polled attendees of its national conference and found 45% of about 19,900 had their positions funded with the help of federal grants. That program handed out $753m before it was defunded in 2005, under Republican president George W Bush. The Richland County sheriff’s department is a beneficiary of these funds, according to Lott, helping pay for 87 student resource officers in the county.

Before it was cut, Democrats came to the defense of Cops grants, including gun control advocates such as New York Democratic senator Chuck Schumer.

“Thanks to Cops, people feel safer with their children on the streets today,” Schumer said in a press release in May 2004, the National Review reported. “But now the Administration has proposed ending the program and taking away funding to hire thousands of police officers just when they are needed most. Why the Administration would want to rip a hole in that sense of security by slashing Cops funding is beyond me.”

Even the Obama administration provided millions to place cops in schools. In the wake of the massacre of 20 people in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the Justice Department pledged $45m to fund 356 new school resource officer positions, fulfilling a call by the National Rifle Association to put more “good guys” with guns in schools.

Many have cited Columbine as the beginning of the SRO era. While funding tied to the event undoubtedly expanded the ranks, it appears the movement was well underway before the massacre. In fact, an armed deputy sheriff was already assigned to Columbine high school when the shooting happened.

By 1991, enough school resource officers were in the field that a specialized police association was founded, the National Association of School Resource Officers. By 1997 (two years before Columbine), there were already an estimated 12,300 school resource officers on campus, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The time was one of a confluence of concerns about criminal justice, when many of the nation’s “tough on crime” laws were written. Crime peaked in the US in 1993. Just three years later, in 1996, a Princeton professor would issue the guiding document for politicians looking to strengthen juvenile sentences – the theory of the juvenile “superpredator”.

Professor John DiIulio Jr zealously warned that juvenile crime would sweep the nation, even though his analysis was debunked at the time (the Los Angeles Times called the study “hogwash”).

Even descriptions for the best possible school resource officers raise constitutional concerns, advocates said. NASRO describes the best school resource officers as those that adhere to the “triad” of teacher, law enforcement officer and counselor. But police are not trained as teachers, and students who confide in school resource officers have none of the privacy protections guaranteed by trained counselors and psychologists.

“I maintain that that’s punting the issue,” Jordan said about the “triad” theory. “Ultimately, you need to reduce the rolls of police in school and restrict it to only the most serious and violent situations.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, members of the Richland County sheriff’s citizens advisory council described a program that, most of the time, worked well.

“As parents and a community, nobody from the sheriff’s department, or anybody else, just dumped this on our heads. There was an outcry,” for more law enforcement, Bishop C L Lorick Junior told reporters. “We made certain laws, and we also made certain polcies called ‘zero tolerance’. As someone eloquently said some time ago, the chickens have come home to roost.”

And while we decry Teacher's Unions they were not the ones demanding the Police presence so why we decry their union for keeping "bad" Teachers, at least we don't actually kill anyone.

Police officers and their unions should face the same scrutiny as teachers
Jason Nichols
The Guardian UK
October 28 2015

It is not acceptable to demand that teachers bear the burden of fixing the education system and yet allow our police departments to remain as they are
police

When will anti-union forces hold the police to the same standards that they hold teachers? Teachers’ unions have been demonized by Republicans for allegedly not putting students’ interests first, but police unions have gone largely uncriticized. Teachers and police are both public servants – if demands for police reform were as rigorous and intense as they have been for teachers that would help overcome the impasse on reining in police brutality.

While highly effective teachers in places like Washington DC can earn $25,000 bonuses for excellence in their craft; the starting salary of a DC metropolitan police officer is a humble $52,148. Similar bonuses should be available for highly effective policing. An officer who has gained the trust of his community, treats citizens (and non-citizens) with respect and de-escalates potentially volatile situations should not be paid on the same scale as officers whose records are full of demerits and complaints.

The latter should be subject to more training and be given the tools to improve before they hit the streets. If they do not progress, their employment should be terminated. The monetary incentive will encourage good conduct and safe behavior. For those who argue policing is a difficult job, our society should be able to counter that it is a difficult job that they are compensated well for.
South Carolina sheriff's deputy on leave after dragging student from her desk
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Education reformers have made it so that teachers are subject to consistent observation and evaluation. Police sergeants should do the same things that principals and instructional supervisors do in schools: follow officers and evaluate them based on their performance.

Contrary to popular belief, teachers are evaluated based on some criteria that seem intangible, not just test scores of students. Some of the benchmarks include parent/teacher surveys and reviews of lesson plans. Guidelines need to be developed to gauge respect, communication and cultural competency, which are fundamental to good policing.

Police unions also need to be stripped of some of their power as well. They, even more so than teacher’s unions, have often put careers and reputation over lives. In New York City, they declared they were a “wartime department” and blamed critics of the NYPD for this. In Baltimore, the Fraternal Order of Police union claimed innocence for the officers implicated in the death of Freddie Gray, while at the same time admitting that the investigation was not complete. It is this kind of rhetoric that ultimately makes the environment unsafe for all, including officers.

Teachers are subject to community oversight in the form of parent-teacher conferences, parent teacher association meetings and open-house events with the school leadership. Officers, from leadership to rank and file should have to face the communities they police.

Police need to be obligated to use the training they have and there need to be serious repercussions when they do not. All school resource officers (SRO) need to have Therapeutic Aggression Control Techniques training. Teachers are required to be certified in teaching, so SROs also need to be certified in policing that special population.

Ben Fields, the officer accused of forcefully arresting a young student in South Carolina on camera, should be terminated for not using his training on how to properly deal with the student. If he was not trained, he and other school administrators should be held accountable for not enlisting the assistance of a social worker. Policing youth is certainly different than working with adults.

It is not acceptable to demand that teachers bear the burden of fixing the education system and yet allow our police departments to remain as they are. This is not about endorsing current education reform. It’s about rejecting the idea that demanding reform is the same as being anti-police. It is about advocating for citizens and communities – and that is something that both sides of the aisle should be able to get behind.

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