Zero Tolerance

Some Schools Scaling Back Use of Police, Zero Tolerance Policies

Trying education instead



The New York Times reports on a trend at some public schools of scaling back tough-on-crime, zero tolerance-like policies the paper says first began to be implemented around the country in the 1990s as part of the war on drugs.  The Times focuses on Broward County, where:

the shift has shown immediate results, although it is too early to predict overall success. School-based arrests have dropped by 41 percent, and suspensions, which in 2011 added up to 87,000 out of 258,000 students, are down 66 percent from the same period in 2012, school data shows.

Under the new agreement, students caught for the first time committing any of 11 nonviolent misdemeanors are no longer arrested and sent to court. Rather, they attend counseling and perform community service.

The Times also notes the Obama administration's role:

Beginning in 2009, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education aggressively began to encourage schools to think twice before arresting and pushing children out of school. In some cases, as in Meridian, Miss., the federal government has sued to force change in schools.

Some view the shift as politically driven and worry that the pendulum may swing too far in the other direction. Ken Trump, a school security consultant, said that while existing policies are at times misused by school staffs and officers, the policies mostly work well, offering schools the right amount of discretion.

A school security consultant! And we have a problem with too much school security? Supporters of the policy shift in Broward county includes at least one judge who wants you to know he's no liberal. From the Times:

"We started to see the officers as a disciplinary tool," said Judge Elijah H. Williams of Broward County Circuit Court, a juvenile judge who said he was "no flaming liberal" but saw the need for change. "Somebody writes graffiti in a stall, O.K., you're under arrest. A person gets caught with a marijuana cigarette, you're under arrest."

So they'll still be arresting students for non-violent crimes. School security consultants can breathe easy.

Scott Shackford noted efforts in LA to roll back the use of police in schools there last week and the wider backlash against zero tolerance in schools last year.

More Reason on zero tolerance and police in schools.

NEXT: Ukrainian Prime Minister Apologizes For Crackdown on Protesters

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’ll never forget the derptitude of the bathroom graffiti in my high school.

    “They paint these walls to cover my pen, but the shithouse poet stricks again!”

    Stricks. What a dufus.

    1. You were the shithouse poet, admit it!

      1. Even then I knew how to spell “strikes.”

        1. Nice cover story, but nobody’s buying it.

    2. The joke’s in your hand, admit it!

      1. Someone played a dirty caper
        When they left the jon without any paper
        My mother is calling and I cannot linger
        So look out *ss here comes my finger

  2. Zero tolerance are rules specifically designed to eliminate the need to think.

    The fact that the people in charge of education could be so stupid as to come up with such idiocy helps explain why the American education system continues to deliver a poor product.

  3. marijuana cigarette

    Oh, dear.

    1. “She was living in a single room with three other individuals.
      One of them was male and the other two,
      Well hell the other two were females.
      And further more Susan,
      I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that all four of them habitually smoke marijuana cigarettes.

  4. Wait, getting arrested for graffiti in the bathroom is an improvement? Jesus Christ. “First I’ll imprison you in a building you co-own, then I’ll send you to be imprisoned in a different building you co-own after you graffiti the bathroom of the first.” Won’t somebody think of the children?!?

    1. Comically enough, I believe the same engineering firms that design prisons specialize in designing public schools.

    2. Of course it’s an improvement. Previously, they’d force you to attend a D.A.R.E. lecture, which to me should be classified as torture.

      Times are so different. It used to be that you could volunteer for Safe Rides (sit in an office and wait for calls to give drunk people a ride home) and then drink beer while waiting for people drinking beer to call you for a ride. Now, you can’t even write “for a good time, call Nicole” in the bathroom stall?

      1. OMFG. SafeRides was the most boring shit I have ever done, and I had to go to the cop shop to pick up the key to the “office”. I think we got two calls the entire year I volunteered there.

        1. Why do you think we drank?!? Of course it was boring! We would also take the Safe Rides car (provided by the program) and do stunts with it, like donuts and jumping it and shit like that. I mean, it wasn’t our car…

          1. We were a bunch of goody-goodys. And we used our own cars (needless to say, I made sure I wasn’t one of the ones to go out on those two calls we got. My Ma was as anal as they come and would have been a bit upset about puke in her car)

      2. The college I attended had something like that. It was called “Call A Ride And Live”, CARAL for short. If you were in a student club and wanted money from the activities committee you had to volunteer for it.

        It sucked, but every once in a while you could have fun with it, especially if the drunk you were driving home was being a dick (or just puked in the backseat, which you’d end up having to clean up later). I once dropped a guy off in front of the Dean’s house. Another time I dropped a guy who I knew was in ROTC off in front of a house that the corps used whenever some bigshot general or colonel was in town… and there just happened to be a visiting colonel at that time. They pretty much PT’ed him until his “ass was sucking buttermilk.” While he was drunk… Good times.

  5. About once every three months I remind the kids that the nice police officer in the school is

    a) not their friend
    b) dangerous in that every interaction with him can result in getting locked up in a cage
    c) will lock parents in a cage based on things he hears the kids say.

    and thus should be avoided as much as is possible, regardless of how the friendliness he shows, because the only impact he can have on them is locking them or someone they love in a cage.

    Also taught my daughter to say nothing but “I want my parents” if ever detained.

    When my son was in fifth grade, the bastard was passing around rounds of ammunition as a way of getting the kids to think he was cool. I wonder what would have happened had *I* or a teacher had done that?
    It’s about all we can do. 🙁

    1. You can pull your kids from public schools and choose not to participate. Find a private school of your liking and flee the beast.

      1. I’d love to do that myself. I’d also love to know how I can pay for it when it would cost more than my mortgage on a monthly basis.

        1. I know it is tough. My wife and I have had the conversation about going the other way and sending ours to public school, but we cut where we can, live in a modest house and just figure it is better than having our kids be “publicly educated.”

      2. Pretty sure everyone here with kids would love to not send them into the void of the public school system, bit contrary to popular belief, only a few of these fuckers own monocle factories.

        1. I own no monocle factories and will be homeschooling, when the time comes.

      3. Oh sure, and when the court comes after me for all the child support payments I’m missing to pay the tuition, and when I can’t pay the fines and interest then sends the kids to live with their abusive mom (yes I pay child support for kids that live with me full time … for great justice) because I’m in jail, they’ll be so much better off.

        Unless I trebble my income, the kids are going to be in government schools whether I like it or not. They’ll also drive on government roads too.

        1. My only point was that if those who can starve the beast, change will eventually have to come. We all have to make our own decisions and that is the best outcome, with all of us making our own decisions. I just prefer not to support the public employee union disguised as a school and hope that over time more will make the same decision.

  6. …tough-on-crime, zero tolerance-like policies the paper says first began to be implemented around the country in the 1990s as part of the war on drugs.

    As a baby boomer, I may be biased, but it seems like my generation strikes again. Someone born in the latter part of the boom would have been in their 30’s in the 1990’s. And thus of an age when their special snowflake needed to be protected from the big bad world.

    Is the pendulum starting to swing as my generation now moves past child rearing and towards retirement ?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.