Police in Schools

Study Finds More School Arrests In Florida After the State Doubled The Number of Police in Schools

There were four times as many incidents of physical restraint against students the year after Florida doubled the number of police in its schools.

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In 2018, Florida schools saw a hiring surge for police officers. As a result, a new study says, the number of school arrests—which had been declining for years—suddenly started to rise. There was also a sharp increase in the use of physical restraint against students.

"The presence of law enforcement in schools was related to increases in the number of behavioral incidents reported to the state, the number of such incidents reported to law enforcement, and student arrests," the report says. "The results suggest a need to reconsider whether law enforcement should be present in schools, and, if they are, how they can be implemented in a way that minimizes unnecessary exposure of students to law enforcement and arrests."

The study was conducted by F. Chris Curran, director of the Education Policy Research Center at the University of Florida. It comes as school districts across the country, reponding to demands for policing reforms, are reconsidering the use of school resource officers (SROs).

Florida in particular has rapidly increased the number of police patrolling its school hallways in the last two years. After the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, the state legislature passed a law requiring every K–12 school in the state to have a police officer or armed guardian. The law more than doubled the number of SROs in Florida schools. The majority of those new hires were assigned to elementary schools.

Florida has also been the site of several recent viral videos of small children being arrested. Last month, body camera footage emerged showing officers in Key West, Florida, trying and failing to handcuff an eight-year-old boy, whose wrists were too small for the cuffs. An Orlando SRO made headlines last September when he arrested a six-year-old girl. 

As Reason reported in June, civil liberties groups and disability advocates have been warning that the hiring surge has led to a disturbing number of arrests of children. The new study bears out at least some of their concerns. It found that the presence of SROs "predicted greater numbers of behavioral incidents being reported to law enforcement, particularly for less severe infractions and among middle schoolers." While overall youth arrests in the state declined by 12 percent, the number of youth arrests at school increased 8 percent.

The study reported that police arrested elementary-aged children 345 times during the 2018–2019 school year. It also found four times as many incidents of physical restraint in 2018–2019 as there were in the previous year.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), have long contended that SROs contribute to the "school-to-prison pipeline" and lead to more arrests and harsher discipline, especially against minority students and students with disabilities. The study found that the increase in arrests was mostly attributable to increases in arrests of white students, while arrests of black students continued to decrease, though blacks are still disproportionately represented among student arrests.

The study's conclusions broadly track with recent findings by researchers at the University of Maryland and the firm Westat, who studied several dozen middle and high schools in California and found that that increasing the number of SROs led to both immediate and persistent increases in the number of drug and weapon offenses and the number of suspensions and expulsions of students.

The SPLC and ACLU are calling on the state to repeal the 2018 law mandating SROs in every school.

"Florida is failing to meet the needs of its students," Michelle Morton of the Florida ACLU said in a press release. "The security measures implemented by our state due to the fear of mass shootings have created school environments that are not conducive to learning."

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  1. It’s working.

    I just watched an outspoken sheriff tell the media that people need to stop doing crime, threatening and attacking police if they want to be left alone.

    That’s good advice.

    1. Last month, body camera footage emerged showing officers in Key West, Florida, trying and failing to handcuff an eight-year-old boy, whose wrists were too small for the cuffs. An Orlando SRO made headlines last September when he arrested a six-year-old girl.

      Stay classy, stormfag.

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  2. Parents wanted their children to be able to go to school & come home safe. SROs become involved bc the teachers who are supposed to be “educators” don’t have a flipping clue how to deal with students. Progressives removed discipline from the School environment & this is what happens. Police cuffing an 8 yo instead of being spanked & put in the corner.

    1. The teachers do know how. But they’ll be fired, arrested and sued if they put a hand on a student.

      1. I still say it’s doubtful the teachers know how to maintain control of the classrooms since they don’t even know impart basic knowledge.

        1. “maintain control of the classrooms”

          Classrooms are easy to control. It’s the humans in them that present challenges. Strangely enough, the more you try to “control” a person’s behavior through threats and coercion, the worse things get.

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        2. I still say it’s doubtful the teachers know how to maintain control of the classrooms since they don’t even know impart basic knowledge.

          Why would anybody with any kind of skills want to work in a public school environment? Look at the people who work there these days.

        3. If these teachers don’t know how to impart basic knowledge, why all the clamor to reopen public schools?

    2. No, that is what happens when we have mandatory education. We need less schooling, not more.

  3. Having more police in the schools it is understandable that there would be more arrests. The same thing will happen even on an regular police force. More officers the more persons that will be arrested. For one reason is more officers the more crimes will be seen or more crimes that will be investigate. Another reason for this happening in schools is the teacher will just call a school resource officer so that she/he can get back to teaching while if there was not a resource officer the teacher would on lesser offences not see the student to the higher school management but let the student just sit back down and put up with the interruptions. This does not mean that there are more offences only more offences are reported.

    1. This does not mean that there are more offences only more offences are reported.

      And when people who commit crimes actually get reported and punished, how is that a bad thing?

  4. The Parkland SRO had an allegation of sexually harassing one of the victims and allegedly called the shooter ‘crazy boy’. It’s easy to imagine how these people instigate the students more than keeping them safe. And no amount of ‘training’ can prevent that.

    I’m fine with security that is accountable to the school. But police in the schools is bad news.

    Also I’ve noticed that several mass shootings occur soon after a mass shooting drill. It gives people ideas and can make them feel stigmatized.

    Basically we need to gradually decriminalize and ratchet down the police state, despite the ‘false flag’ attacks intended to keep us out of paradise. (These mass shooters want us to think they are motivated by ‘extremist’ ideology. In fact that is just a pretext.)

    He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life. – Genesis 3:24

    1. I think you’re on to something…get rid of the police, and crime will go away. Wonder why no one thought of that before now…?

      1. That’s not what I said. But obviously you’re not a libertarian. That’s fine, just admit it.

        1. You that hide behind some utopian view of libertarianism are a very effective weapon in turning people away from the Libertarian Party as well as the concept itself.

        2. That’s not what I said. But obviously you’re not a libertarian. That’s fine, just admit it.

          Libertarianism isn’t relevant to the issue of security in public schools because public schools as institutions are intrinsically not libertarian.

          Basically we need to gradually decriminalize and ratchet down the police state

          Sure, just as soon as we have restored freedom of association and the right to self defense.

          You want to remove the statist mechanisms that protect us against crime while still leaving in place the statist mechanisms that prohibit us from protecting ourselves. I’m not sure whether you’re a fool or deliberately want to destroy the country, but either way, that’s not libertarian.

          1. “ Sure, just as soon as we have restored freedom of association and the right to self defense.”

            Why would you need the right to self defense in a police state? The State provides for this need.

            You’re arguing the chicken or the egg. It matters not which comes first. Reduce the police state to place focus on the right of self defense or, place focus on the right of self defense to reduce the police state.

            You can argue one before the other and receive neither or, advocate for one or the other and in the end you may get both.

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  5. This is classic…the implication being that because there are more police in schools, there is more disruptive behavior. By that logic, removing all the police from the streets of Chicago would result in fewer arrests. Makes sense…wait, I wonder if fewer arrests would mean the number of shootings would decrease?

    Maybe someone should ask the teachers if they’re seeing more students acting out since the arrival of the police…or, perhaps the same students are acting out at the same level, there just weren’t any police officers around to arrest them.

  6. Wait. I thought the schools were closed.
    More cops around = more bad stuff being seen = more arrests.
    Is this like being surprised when things fall if they are dropped?

  7. Neighbor is a Teacher. Teachers wanted classrooms disinfected each night. Kids tested before they get on a bus or parents bring them in. Couple with an Autistic kid was called. He was sick. The call came at 09:45 AM. Parents picked him up at 04:30.

    Maybe the solution is stop having kids.

  8. Conspicuously absent from this report (maybe not the study, but certainly the story) is the answer to a really obvious question: has the presence of more SRO’s actually making the intended difference?

  9. “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” ~ Ayn Rand

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  12. SROs are nothing more than Political Officers who ensure that the students are indoctrinated in Drug War propaganda and are following Drug War rules.

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    1. Does this bot shit ever work? Do they even proofread before programming bots?

  15. Welcome to the gulag. It gets worse here everyday.

    1. It’s a public school: it’s designed to be a gulag, with or without police.

      1. “ It’s a public school: it’s designed to be a gulag, with or without police.”

        If true, why all the clamor to reopen public schools?

  16. The study’s conclusions broadly track with recent findings by researchers at the University of Maryland and the firm Westat, who studied several dozen middle and high schools in California and found that that increasing the number of SROs led to both immediate and persistent increases in the number of drug and weapon offenses and the number of suspensions and expulsions of students.

    More SROs = More drug busts and weapons busts in schools

    Is this not what we want…drugs and weapons out of our schools?

    Let’s not lose sight of the objective on why these SROs were hired in the first place.

    1. “Is this not what we want…drugs and weapons out of our schools?”

      I went to a high school in which every pickup truck in the parking lot (student and faculty alike) had either a beanfield rifle or an 870 in the gun rack. When the biology teacher asked “hey, anybody got a knife?” He’d have his choice ranging from Swiss Army knives to Buck 110s.

      We did not have SROs, school shootings or stabbings. We rarely had fights that turned to fisticuffs.

      The Swiss Army knife, 110s, 870s and beanfield rifles haven’t changed in decades. What changed?

      Why the need for a SRO and/or to forbid pocket knives in school?

      1. So did I. But like it or not, the rules are the rules. They may be stupid rules, but if you tell your kid that the way to fight stupid school rules is to violate them, you’re steering him wrong. You and your kid can start district-wide petitions, attend school board meetings, etc.

        Most of my kids were homeschooled all the way through, but I had two that have spend some time in public and charter schools. My advice to them has always been “Don’t break the rules, exploit them.”

        If your kid brings a gun or knife to school when it’s against the rules, he’s indicating that he cannot abide by the conventions of civil society. We all have to abide by rules we don’t like, every day.

        My experience is that the type of person who violates easily-abided rules like those against drug and weapon possession are the types of people who are very likely to violate other possibly more serious rules down the road.

  17. This article delivers a lot less than the title promises. It’s poorly written and no attempt is used to flesh out the suggestion that the cop’s presence is the result of bad (or criminal) student behavior.

  18. “The presence of law enforcement in schools was related to increases in the number of behavioral incidents reported to the state, the number of such incidents reported to law enforcement, and student arrests,” the report says. “The results suggest a need to reconsider whether law enforcement should be present in schools, and, if they are, how they can be implemented in a way that minimizes unnecessary exposure of students to law enforcement and arrests.”

    And in other news, wet streets cause rain. You can as easily read this data as showing that the schools were underpoliced and many incidents were going uncaught. The article doesn’t even begin to discuss what proportion of the arrests were unjustified.

    This is just like when they discover that black students commit violence and disciplinary infractions more than White students and decide that the proper response is to cap student discipline at racially proportionate levels, regardless of whether black students are actually offending more.

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