Should Police Be In Our Schools?

The violent death of George Floyd has sparked local and nationwide protests about  the funding of police departments. Movements to “disband the police” and to defund the police reached a crescendo when the Denver public school board voted to eliminate all police officers working in Denver’s public schools and to eliminate all school resource officers (SRO) from middle and high schools by June 2021.

I have spent all of my professional career in New York City High Schools – first as a classroom teacher, then as a school counselor and finally as a school administrator.

Part of my career was spent at James Madison High School, a high achieving high school and the place where New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both graduated from. While I was at the school a student was shot and killed by a fellow student in a fight over a leather coat. My next school, George Westinghouse Career and Technical High School, (a Title1 High School) a student was shot and paralyzed by an intruder despite the fact that there was a manned metal detector and School Resource Officers at the school.

Schools were not built with safety in mind. There are too many unmanned doors. High performing schools and low performing schools have had violence. School violence not only takes place in inner-cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Minneapolis) but also in rural communities like ( West Paduka, Kentucky High School ) suburban schools (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL) , elementary schools (Sandy Hook, Connecticut) and on a Native American reservation (Red Lake Senior High School in Minnesota). A total of 1121 children have been killed in the 194 school shootings since 2010.

As citizens we have grown used to security metal detectors, closed circuit televisions and police at sporting events, and airports as well on our streets.  Are our most precious children less important and should they be more vulnerable? School Resource Officers are frequently drawn from the neighborhoods where they work. Not only do they provide another friendly adult in the building but also  a sense of security and safety for the young people

Should we have law enforcement agents in schools? Ask the parents of the twenty 5 ,6 and 7-year-old children who lost their lives in Sandy Hook or the families of the eight staff members who were killed in Sandy Hook.

Schools need to have:

  1. Thoroughly trained, SRO’s who have been vetted by the police department.
  2. Closed circuit televisions around the school fully monitored in a secure room.
  3. Trained members of the staff knowing how to provide mental health to the students.
  4. Each staff member equipped with a “panic button” key fob to notify school school administrators and the police of unauthorized visitors and intruders.