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POLICING OUR SCHOOLS

On the subject of Newark last week approving to put a police officer at the Junior High and the article: 'Does Newark Junior High need a School Liaison Officer?'

 

The Newark Junior High has had less ‘violence’ now, during the two years without a police officer, than it had previously with the presence of a police officer…

In fact, I think we can conclude that ‘violence’ is the wrong word in this context. Newark Junior High is in fact a safe school. As I understand it as a parent, the 'violence' we are talking about consists of scuffles, shoving, occasional hair pulling, and at most, some fists flying. Not good, but not VIOLENCE.

Now it has been decided that, in spite of being a safe school, we need a police officer; not because, as originally stated in the City Council Agenda, Junior High has ‘increased violence’, that elicited ‘growing concern’ and need for ‘a strategy to combat these issues’; but because the police wants to present a positive image, give students a better understanding of the nature and function of law enforcement…and so on.

On one hand, it feels like the more grown-ups at schools, the better, but my fist choice would not be a police officer; it would be someone who is an expert on kids: a counselor, a psychologist, a teacher, a social worker, a school nurse…

I thought the SLO (School Liaison Officer) now approved, worth $ 50 000/ year for 3 years, would come all paid for by a grant. I looked around on the web and found one grant program (www.cops.usdoj.gov), but at least in this one, at least 25% of the money has to be paid locally. The City/ School District could hopefully clarify this and give us all the facts.

I am also trying to educate myself about the whole ‘police in schools’ thing (we don't do it in Sweden, but I hear some people have grown up with it here). But, the more I've read, so far, the more uneasy I get.

This is an example from John Hopkins Magazine, written by Editor Dale Keiger entitled ‘AN UNNECESSARY FORCE’ from 2002 (http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0902web/police.html):

Greenberg, formerly a cop in Howard County, Maryland, believes that a properly run SRO (Student Resource Officer) program can help resolve some problems in some schools, but says he’s opposed to putting officers in schools just for the sake of doing it: “It’s show-and-tell stuff that’s politically expedient and will have only a short-term effect at great expense both in dollars and in the emotional well-being of young people.


Says Greenberg, 'We're stripping kids in many schools of a sense of sanctuary. It would be different if we had well-researched police education programs in which police officers were presenting well-done curricula. But that is not what is going on. We are creating school safety problems and a school-safety industry. We're putting armed police officers in schools where theyserve as very expensive -easily $90,000 per full-time officer- security personnel. We're putting them in schools that never had a problem.

(This article above is actually a debate between two different view points, but you can read for yourselves.)

Here ‘s another article from last week, Sunday, January 6th, written partly in view of recent events, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinion/perspectives/989269-474/kupchik-dont-put-armed-guards-in-schools.html by Aaron Kupchik (associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware and the author of 'HOMEROOM SECURITY; SCHOOL DISCIPLINE IN AN AGE OF FEAR'), his article is titled “Don’t put armed Guards in schools”. Some excerpts:

But their presence (police) has effects that help transform the school from an environment of academia to a site of criminal law enforcement. Issues that might otherwise be seen as  mental health or social problems can become policing matters once an officer is stationed in a school.

Arrests for minor infractions, such as fistfights in which there are no injuries, go up. as the 2011 books ‘Punished’ and ‘Police in the Hallways’ have found – among other research – officers can start to see youths as thugs and criminals and begin treating them with hostility and sometimes even abusively.

Research has repeatedly shown that schools can prevent student misbehavior by establishing positive social climates. Students do better when they feel respected and listened to, like a valued part of the school, and when they view school regulations and actions, including security, as fair.

Introducing more police into schools can undo these efforts, making what had been an encouraging learning environment, where students are partners in an educational effort, into more of a place where students are subjects of school rules.

 

My main point is, ‘police in school or not’, is an issue that should be discussed with parents. The City and School Board could present their reasons, their research and their experiences. We parents, could contribute with our reservations, fears, and what kind of experiences we have. We could all read up on the subject. I have requested a meeting for this purpose, but it has so far gone unacknowledged by the School District and City. I am still hoping they will open up...

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James Nelson January 16, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I think that Mr Neals Assertion that NJHS is a Campus FREE (Devoid) of Violence is outright Bullshit. I E-Mailed him to tell him as much. As a Former NJHS Student as many Newark Citizens are I have a Recollection of Mr Neals Predecessors also claiming that the Campus was "Safe" at that time despite Total Throw downs During and After School. I won't pretend like I didn't have a hand in the way it was when I attended after all I ruined quite a few good Shirts during my "Scuffles" (That's right, keep downplaying it!). Now perhaps Staff at NJHS don't hear about the dealings which happen on Campus, The Staff when I attended didn't. Let's just pretend for a moment that the Atmosphere has changed dramatically since I was a Student (16 Years ago). How can anyone make a Bold Statement such as "both Staff and Students feel safe on Campus"? Have you talked to each and every Student in a Private Room and actually listened to them? As an Adult in recent years I've encountered quite a few NJHS Students going for it after School, usually at Graham Park over some sort of Animosity which took place on School Property. I guess what I'm pointing out is that just because you don't hear about it doesn't mean it's not happening. I think people need to change with the times and this is especially true of Public Schools or really any place which caters to Children being present on it's Property.
Albert Rubio January 21, 2013 at 06:44 AM
Birgitta, I agree with your general comments. I believe there is an irresponsible obsession with creating a feeling of safety. I once pointed out in a group of parents that there should be a standard to determine whether there should be a school officer or not, and of course no one wanted to part with their security blanket. And of course it was a given without any standard mentioned. The causes of violence in government schools of course is a different discussion, I disagree that scuffles and hair pulling is not violence. It certainly is. But such events are accounted for in school policies and does not require police presence. I am very disturbed by constantly deferring to increased police presence and monitoring.
Nadja Adolf June 14, 2013 at 06:30 AM
The United States seems to be on track to be a police state within a decade - if it isn't already. We have dogs sniffing students (dogs which are considered "probable cause" despite studies that find that the percentage of false positive reactions is far more than reported by police handlers and police dog trainers), cops in schools, and an obsession with *feeling* safe as opposed to *being* safe. Hardening entryways and grounds would be a very good idea since one of the most common sources of serious violence in Bay Area school is entry and attacks by irate parents and relatives on staff or students. One teacher in a nearby district was unable to return to the classroom after a gangster mother came in and viciously assaulted her because of a disciplinary action taken against gangster baby. Those who need to be kept off of school grounds include non-custodial parents, pedophiles, irate former spouses of parents and staff, irate parents who plot revenge against teachers or students, and even enemies of parents. None of these problems are new. When I was just a small child, around fifty years ago in Corvallis, Oregon, a university town of significantly less than 30,000 people at that time, a girl at my school was kidnapped by a disgruntled employee of her father's; fortunately she was released physically unharmed after a terrifying night spent as a captive in her kidnapper's car. Around the same time, the wife of a university faculty member had police and the convent sisters at her children's parochial school on the lookout for her violent former husband who had made repeated attempts to abduct the children from that marriage - a problem resolved only when her faculty member husband sought and obtained a job at a university far away in another state.

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