It’s time to remove cops from K-12 campuses
Invest resources in teachers and students, not police
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police, people across the country are demanding a reduction in the role of police in all aspects of our lives, including in our schools. Having police officers patrolling schools (“School Resources Officers” or “SROs”) has been shown to contribute substantially to the school-to-prison pipeline. This is particularly true for youth of color who are more likely to be arrested in a school that has a police officer on campus. And there is no credible research showing that SROs make schools safer.
“Too often, issues that were once dealt with in the principal’s office are now dealt with in a police precinct, especially for youth of color” said JPI Executive Director Marc Schindler. “It is critical that we disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. To do that we must remove police from our schools and reinvest those funds in staff and programs that are more likely to actually make schools safe and support our children as they grow and learn.”
In Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) reported that the allocation of $68 million through the Community Oriented Policing Services in Schools Program resulted in a 45 percent increase in the number of SROs between 1997 and 2000. These funds should have been used to support students and teachers in creating a healthy learning environment, rather than having been spent on placing law enforcement in our schools.
The report revealed that the presence of SROs increases needless arrests for behaviors that have historically been dealt with by school administrators. One study found that schools with an SRO had nearly five times the rate of arrests for disorderly conduct as schools without an SRO on campus.
The National Association of School Resource Officers estimates there are officers in about 30 percent of U.S. schools. Additional data shows that approximately 1.6 million students nationwide attend a school with a law enforcement officer on staff, but not a school counselor; and that Black students are 3 times more likely to attend a school that has more security staff than mental health professionals.
Education Under Arrest recommended investing in schools, teachers, and students — and implementing practices like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Social and Emotional Learning, rather than SROs. These interventions result in better outcomes, without the unnecessary arrests and subsequent involvement in the justice system associated with SROs. We are encouraged by school districts across the country including Minneapolis, Charlottesville and Denver that are severing their ties with police departments.
The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the incarceration generation by using the justice system and incarceration only as a last resort.