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Giving Compass' Take:
• After the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Children’s Justice conducted a three year investigation of the aggressive police force used in Stockton's unified school district, there are new reforms aimed at ending this abuse.
• How can educators and the outer community help Stockton schools recover?
• Read the new studies showing that increased school security and police presence does not lead to better school outcomes.
Stockton, California’s Unified School District has been criminalizing students under the premise of protecting them. Since 1991, school police, referred to as “school resource officers,” have arrested more than 34,000 students, including 1,600 under 10 years old.
That may now be changing, with a recent court decision requiring the district to radically reform its policing policies and to provide a model that other districts can follow.
A March 2015 analysis of state crime statistics by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (my employer) revealed that in a district with around 40,000 students—94 percent of whom are people of color—Stockton’s school officers arrested more than 1,800 students in 2012 on criminal charges. That included 182 students who were 9 or younger, a rate 37 times higher than all other law enforcement agencies in California.
In November 2015, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Children’s Justice, newly created by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, launched an investigation. The Bureau contacted the district to determine why their “arrest rates were out of control.”
The Bureau’s three-year investigation revealed widespread abuses in the Stockton schools, which included use of excessive force, unconstitutional and “random and suspicionless” search and seizure procedures using dogs and pat-downs, and frequent arrests targeting even the youngest students. The procedures often resulted in students being treated like criminals for misconduct typical of schoolchildren, especially those with disabilities.
The final judgment issued in Sacramento’s Superior Court in January between current Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Stockton schools was unprecedented in strength and scope. The 26-page final judgment reads more like a detailed school policy document than a general court order—a blueprint for reforming other districts that suffer from overpolicing.
Read the full article about ending aggressive policing in schools by Mike Males at YES! Magazine