Removing armed cops from schools?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Does your school have an armed cop? Does it have an unarmed cop?

    Does your school/district have its own police force? Does it contract with the local police force?

    I read some news reports about some school districts in Minneapolis and Portland removing school police officers from the schools. Just wanted to have a conversation about that here. What are your feelings?
     
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  3. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    I work in a higher income suburban school.
    We have an armed officer who works for the district's own police force. From what I have seen the cops tend to be older officers who worked for the county's force and retired.

    I have seen some horrific things online about having cops in schools. A few years ago there were videos of that officer slamming the girl in the desk somewhere who refused to leave the room. However, I do not want the officers removed from my school for one reason, school shootings. Until we get the gun situation in this country under control, I think all schools should have an armed officer.

    I think a better course of action would be to say that if you don't trust officers to treat kids fairly, then admin deal with school behaviors (fights, unruly kids, etc.) and the police only deal with outside threats or threats involving weapons. When I worked at a rougher high school this is what we did.
     
  4. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Our district has School Resource Officers in high schools and (I think) middle schools. They are armed. The school district has a contract with the city police department.

    There is a petition circulating to break the contract.

    I can see both sides of the issue. It doesn't affect me directly since I teach elementary school.

    My son attended an elementary school directly across from our town's police department and I kind of liked the proximity. I don't have a problem with having an armed officer in his middle and high school. I always thought it was more about relationship building and community policing rather than strict law enforcement.
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My district has a school resource officer from each municipality that overlaps our district boundaries. They are not present at all times and serve as liaisons to bridge schools and law enforcement more than security. They run DARE-like educational programs and participate in community events.
     
  6. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Each school in my district, including elementary schools, has a School Resource Officer. They are cops who go through extra training. Ours is amazing! He carries a gun, but has never used it on campus or at a school event. He has had to use pepper spray a time or two. One of those times a student was having a psychotic break and kept kicking him in the balls and scratching him. He's a pretty big man and was scared he would hurt her if he tried to restrain her, so he pepper sprayed her. His next step would have been a taser. He also used pepper spray to break up a knife fight once, after other interventions failed.

    Our SRO mentors our students, he's from their neighborhood, he plays ball with them at lunch and dances with them a pep rallies. I feel safer with him on campus. As to if he should carry a gun, I will say that having someone on campus armed and highly trained in both deescalation strategies, a continuum of force, and shooting makes me feel safer. With over 2000 people on campus each day, you never know who will come on campus bringing what weapon and what intentions. I totally trust our SRO to step up.

    As far as students being arrested on campus, some are, if what they did would also lead to an arrest off campus. Calling a teacher a bitch? Nah. Selling drugs? You'll probably get a ticket to appear. Violent crime, like attacking someone with a weapon? Handcuffs and you're out of here, and I'm ok with that.
     
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  7. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    Our SRO is armed. He is a local officer - probably in his 30s. A big part of his job is to promote positive relationships between students and law enforcement and to diffuse problems before they occur. He has an overall positive relationship with the student body.
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    We have resource officers in MS and HS and visits to elementary schools. For the most part it is a good thing. Every now and then it is not. Just like anything else, not everyone should have the job they have.

    For the most part they want to encourage the youth to make better choices.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is similar to what we have here; there are Community Officers who work with specific schools on an on-call basis.
     
  10. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    In the district I work in the middle and high schools have unarmed security, these are district classified employees, on site at all times. The 1000 student middle school I worked at had three. The 2000 student high school I now work at has around six or seven. Each of these schools also had SROs assigned to them, these are police officers, and my impression is they come to campus when requested by admin. I don't know what the situation is at the elementary schools. I think our school board is discussing the district's relationship with the police department at their next meeting.
     
  11. Ima Teacher

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    We have one school resource officer who works for the entire district. He is contracted through the local police department. He is armed since he is a regular officer.
     
  12. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Companion

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    We have a school resource officer who is an armed cop from the local PD. Each semester, a new cop has the job of being our SRO. We typically have the same person every fall and the same person every spring. He or she will go with the Asst. Principal to take students out of class and deal with discipline issues. Occasionally students have had to be arrested for drugs or violence while on campus.

    I personally don't mind having some sort of security personnel on campus if they are also in a mentor role with students, but I do not think for our school they need to be armed, or even an official cop.
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I am only very familiar with one particular high school that has police officers. Over a year ago, the school started requesting to the district to remove the police officers. The problems mostly seemed to be when the officers got involved with too many smaller issues. There were many concerns of disrespect, not understanding how to deal with those with special needs, and going too far on small issues.

    There was a positive feeling though that police officers were helpful for the few large issues the high school had (i.e. drugs,weapons). The general feeling was that the teachers did a better job with most discipline issues and preventing problems from happening. Many staff members, students, and parents wanted the police officers to be removed from the school if they were going to get involved with anything but large criminal issues.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I don’t see much of a point in having armed school officers unless prior incidents have indicated it’s needed. If it is needed, then it seems unsafe to remove them. I teach at a school where it would be unnecessary (thankfully).
     
  15. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Lucky you. Truly.

    Before my private school installed the security fence and more than doubled our security personnel, we had a number of nefarious people wander on our campus and cause problems. Some were running from the police, some were trying to sell students drugs, some were drunk homeless people with mental issues, etc.

    This was back when I was first hired and the board members and CEO were tired of it. Even though we are located on the nice side of town, it didn’t stop riffraff from entering from the not-so-nice side of town. In response, the upper administrators unanimously voted to install what I call “The Wall” and to greatly beef up our security detail. It paid off as we’ve had *zero* breaches since and no one worries about people gaining unauthorized access anymore. And it gives me peace of mind that I am highly protected by professionals.

    I pity the person(s) who try to force their way in as they won’t live to tell the tale.
     
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  16. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I should probably add that in addition to our SRO we have three unarmed security guards. They handle things like if a kid needs to be removed from class, or they patrol the school. They also take shifts working the front desk signing in guests and checking IDs and such. Our ROTC instructors are sometimes asked to fill in on duty when large crowds of students are gathered. We have a lot of security people on campus, but we feel safe, not smothered.
     
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  17. CherryOak

    CherryOak Comrade

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    I remember thinking my childhood's small, rural town would never need such a thing. But, decades ago, a jerk unrelated to the school still walked in and killed third graders nonetheless. :( I get the anger, I really do. But, I also can't let go of the comfort their presence today brings me.
     
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  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    My mom works in a district where there are police officers in the high schools but I don't know if they are in the other schools. I don't think I'd mind working in a school with one.
     
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  19. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Had you had a security team and security fence like mine has, do you think it would have happened?
     
  20. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Systemic racism isn't something one "believes in" or not. That statement is extremely offensive. The percentage of black students in your school or how multicultural you are is completely irrelevant.
     
  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    I’ve muted the person so I am editing this post.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  22. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I will speak up about racism.

    Anyone is welcome to put me on ignore.
     
  23. CherryOak

    CherryOak Comrade

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    Hmph. I've never thought of myself as a criminal seeing as I don't commit crimes. But, if that's your definition, I'll just wear the title with pride.

    Back to the point...I think extremes are unhealthy, no matter how easy they are desired when facing scary situations. So, I don't think solutions would include all severance with SROs. It's not the job that we must be mindful of, it's the people. As taught in all leadership basics, it always comes down to people. And, all fields, organizations, businesses, etc. are only as strong as the weakest link. So, how do we lead our people to ensure the best, quality culture will fullheartedly permeate throughout our schools, SROs included? That's worth our time to consider, in my humble opinion.
     
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  24. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The discussion on whether or not armed officers belong in schools is valid and appropriate. The glorification of violence has no place here. I have weeded through the thread but have kept it open because there is a lot to be considered. Please don't make me lock it.
     
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  25. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    You’ve helped me make the decision to never return to these forums. Please delete me account as I am unable to.

    I’m done.
     
  26. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I feel like I'm missing part of this discussion.
     
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  27. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    That's because you are. Posts were deleted.
     
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  28. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    WE do not have any, but we do need some police in our school. It is a powder keg at times. I'd like 1 at the front door, 1 on the playground, and 4 in the hallways. It would help teachers, parents, and students pass on info of potential violence and threats. I always felt safe in school up until about 5 yrs ago. I have had a few times since then when I was seriously worried about guns spraying bullets.
    District lines changed and people moved. We got some new people crazier than loons. Some parents do meth as a group. Other kids threaten to shoot up the school or specific people. People are free to wander the halls.
    It is so opposite of where I came from....there was violence there, but they were fist fights and kids did not threaten with guns. Plus, they had consequences they followed through with. You couldn't wander the halls or go to classrooms. The office stopped the people as they entered there.
    It would be really beneficial too if these police were trained to talk with kids who flip out and remove them from classrooms. Since the kids are not used to consequences, maybe they'd learn a bit more about real life. I am sure kids would tell if someone in authority listened and acted on it. ( Keeping them safe in the process.) The way it seems to work now is the victim is often blamed and thrown under the bus. They get retaliation if they tell often. I guess it'd all depend on who we got for cops too. They'd kind of have to be trained as counselors too.

    PS Yeah, I missed something too here. :)
     
  29. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My post was moderated. I’m not entirely sure why.
     
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  30. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    The moderator (catnfiddle) left a post on this topic. Maybe that will help clarify a bit. I didn't get the impression that you were the concern.
     
  31. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I reached out to Caesar privately. All is well.

    As to the actual topic, I can say that I have been in an active shooter situation that was stopped by a resource officer. He tackled the guy and ended the craziness without weapons or fanfare. Resource Officer didn't carry and wasn't uniformed, but he was a lovely person who made all of us laugh and feel safe.

    At my current school, we recently got a part time guard. The biggest weapon she has is her height, followed closely by her flashlight, used in our one unlit stairwell that used to reek of smoke. She, like the rest of us, forges relationships and a general air of stern kindness. She's one of the main reasons I hate not being at my building during all of this.

    At my alma mater, when the school decided to have a uniformed security guard, they bought a uniform for the lead paraprofessional. She was always surrounded by students who wanted to hang out with her. When she passed, I cried like I lost family.

    Guns are NOT needed. Interactions and mutual trust are, either by sworn authorities or volunteers.
     
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  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is where I struggle. Not all threats to schools are internal, so relationship-building is only part of it. Look at Sandy Hook. That guy was not part of the school community. He just showed up and did what he did. My previous school had a school shooting and a student died. It was gang-related and I don’t believe that the shooter was a student there. In these situations, guns may be what stops the threat.

    With that having been said, we have seen time and time again examples of police brutality, even against children and even in schools, where the use of force does not appear to be justified and does in fact seem to be symptomatic of systemic racism. I can’t support anything like that. But outside threats to schools are real.

    I don’t know what the right answer is.
     
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  33. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I don't know the exact right answer either.

    One thing I think that could be a great help is far greater accountability. I would like that there would be body cameras even with school police. This is especially true if they have a weapon. Also, the school needs to set some clear parameters for the police. If the school gives little guidance to the police, and then the police go a bit too far in handling a student, possibly that is because it isn't clear where the line is at that school.

    I do believe that police should be there for protection, prevention of criminal acts, and not for school discipline issues such as not listening to a teacher. If a student is a discipline issue and not violent, the school should handle that.
     
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  34. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I absolutely believe there are bad in all professions. There is brutality both physical and mental by police (and other professionals). There are times it is racism. There are times it is just a bad authority figure.

    While there are some situations that you look at where everyone agrees it was wrong, there are others that looking back it is wrong but at the time, the authority has to decide what the right move is because it could be life or death for the authority figure. I certainty wouldn't want to be in that position.

    Then there is the idea of how much force is too much or too soon? I agree in learning techniques to deescalate, but I know that they won't always work, especially when dealing with someone who may be impaired. Who is willing to shut down a school for hours because the SRO needs the time to talk a student down, especially one who is impaired? What if this happens once a week or every day?

    I think all of these topics get combined into one when we look at policing (in school or out).

    I think of our discussions here and those who I know who are so quick to judge poor families. They justify their ideas based one what they know and have experienced. Now, look at that same thing in the eyes of a police officer in a high crime area where there are violent crimes all of the time. They know each time they interact with someone might be their last because they never know for sure what they will be up against.

    I'm not saying there isn't an issue with police brutality. There is. But we have to be very careful to not over estimate how "systemic" it is because we may not be happy with the result. We also have to be very careful about assessing whether it is race based or power based. Is it a specific force? Is it from the top? Is it that few are willing to stand up to co-workers or report when they see what is happening like we also see in the teaching profession?

    I know many won't agree with me.
     
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  35. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I wonder if perhaps there needs to be clarification on the definition of racism. I know that when I was growing up, racism was defined a lot like prejudice where an individual feels hatred towards an individual or group based on race. Now, though, I feel like the definition has evolved into something bigger. More than about individual people and their feelings, it’s about a system of oppression, with rules and procedures and traditions that weave together in a way that promotes and oppresses based primarily on race. When we see an out of control school resource officer slamming a black elementary kid onto the pavement, it may not necessarily be that the officer personally is racist, but it could be that he works within an inherently racist system. The difference is important, I think.
     
  36. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes, lots of good questions to ask. I think the one about race based or power based is a good one. While race looks like it has been a frequent issue with police, the shove to the ground of that 75 year old man in Buffalo, showed it isn't always a race issue. It looked from the video that elderly man was white who was pushed by white officers.
     
  37. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I wonder If it’s possible that what we’re seeing is actually a race and power issue functioning within the same system. Officers have been so accustomed to getting away with brutality for so long, particularly against black people, and we are seeing them focus that brutality in all kinds of directions, perhaps as a way of flexing their muscles to the world at large, or maybe specifically to the black people they have historically brutalized. “We aren’t afraid to do this to elderly men returning helmets to us. Don’t think we won’t do worse to you.”
     
  38. RainStorm

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    Here in Florida, since 2018, it is state mandated that every single public school have an armed SRO or "armed guardian" in school at all times. When I first came to Florida at an elementary school I was shocked. I am used to SROs in middle and high school, but had never seen armed security in elementary school.

    Additionally, all classroom doors have to remain locked at all times in Florida, and students cannot be sent out of the classroom alone for any reason. (We have bathrooms and water fountains actually in the classrooms in this county.) Even if a child is called to the office for dismissal, you can't just send him to the office. TWO other children must go with him! You can't just send him with a buddy, because that would leave the buddy having to walk back to class alone. So every time a child is dismissed early, three children have to leave the classroom! You can't imagine how disruptive that is at the end of the day, even with rules about no early dismissals. We didn't do early dismissals for the last 15 minutes of the day, so the parents just came earlier (legally the school has to allow it.) So for the last half an hour, it was a constant flow of threesomes in and out of the classroom. It really made it hard to teach anything then.

    The part that freaked me out is that once an hour (minimum) the armed guardians came by, and "shook the doors" trying to open them. Even though we were very careful to lock them, sometimes someone else would come into the classroom (like a special ed teacher or an IT person) who had a master key, and they would leave the door unlocked, and then the classroom teacher would get yelled at (in front of the class) for being so careless and not caring about their students! After the math specialist came in and carelessly left the door unlocked, I was yelled at in front of my class, and told that I obviously didn't care if the students in my class were murdered because I was "too lazy" to keep up with the door. The principal felt this approach was fine, and that even if another teacher was to blame, I should have noticed, so there was nothing I could do about it. And I was so careful!!!
     
  39. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    I like having our armed officer in the building. Kinda feel sorry for him though because we don’t have much of the drama that might involve interaction with police. He just seems to walk the halls and watch students change classes. I think he gets bored at our school. I know I would!
     
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  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    In my district we have some very busy SROs and some very not busy SROs. Much has to do with the population at the school and what influences they bring into the school. The SROs at the school with few problems build great relationships with the students. They aren't viewed as foes. The schools where the SROs are busy tend to have a very skewed relationship with the students (loved or hated). I bet you can all guess which group of students love the SRO and which group hates the SRO.

    I'd love an environment where SROs are never needed in schools. But that is not the reality.

    I would love to hear realistic solutions for some of the problems we see in schools where a fair number of the population is involved in criminal activities in and out of school. And because our society focuses on the few times it goes wrong, I hope those solutions make sure that a bad result will never happen.
     
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  41. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Ah, THIS is the kind of dialogue I was hoping for. Thank you for starting the conversation, Caesar.
     

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