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Should Armed Officer Be Assigned to Public Schools?

Should Armed Officer Be Assigned to Public Schools?

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

April 09, 2011

He said that two uniformed city officers were based there and that it worked wonderfully.

“They were a key part of our faculty, and young people would go to them and share what was going on in the neighborhood and tip them off,” he said. “They were able to ward off lots of problems at the school. Their presence, just walking into the lunchroom, would stop a lot of problems before they started.”

He disputed the idea – voiced by some critics over the years – that city officers in schools would turn the district into “a police state.”

“The policeman is your friend,” he said.

Patterson was lent to the district when Golden was fired after five years on the job.

Golden said he had not been consulted on some key safety decisions, and accused district leaders of a lack of focus and direction on safety issues. He was removed after The Inquirer began questioning the district about safety during its yearlong investigation of violence in Philadelphia’s public schools.

The series found that there were more than 30,000 serious incidents – two-thirds of them assaults – in the schools during the last five years, and that attacks were carried out by children in the earliest of grades, even kindergarten.

During the 2009-10 school year alone, there were 690 recorded attacks on teachers.

In some cases, violence was not reported or was reported late, The Inquirer found.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said in an interview for the series that principals had long had broad latitude in running their schools. As a result, he said, schools vary widely in how they report and handle violence, and whether they call city police.

Neither McDonald, the mayor’s aide, nor Ramsey and his spokeswoman, Karima Zedan, would say which schools would be targeted for city police presence or how such a plan would work, but they did say discussions were “preliminary” and “in the earliest of stages.”

There are 19 schools among the 257 in the district that are classified as “persistently dangerous,” according to state guidelines. To make the list, a school with more than 1,000 students must have 20 dangerous incidents a year that lead to arrests for offenses such as aggravated assault or rape.

The Inquirer series identified an additional 55 schools that had a violent-crime rate as high as or higher than those 19, but that did not make the list because they had not met narrowly focused regulations.

The district’s current budget crisis will surely factor into the decision to put city police in the schools.

“A new paradigm of some kind would make sense,” said McDonald.

The district acknowledged last week that it was facing a deficit of $629 million and that there had been talk of large-scale layoffs, including some school police officers. School officers are unarmed, but can detain crime suspects until city police respond.

A city budget crisis in the 1980s played a role in city officers’ being removed from schools. Over the last decade, there have been calls to reinstate officers, as shootings, rapes, and other violent acts have occurred.

Former Schools Chief Executive Paul Vallas in 2004 asked for city officers to be stationed at neighborhood high schools, but was rebuffed by Mayor John F. Street. The issue became a point of contention between Street and Vallas, who heightened the call after a student was shot in November 2004 outside Strawberry Mansion High School.

Vallas’ proposal met with strong opposition from some community groups as well, and Nutter and Ramsey are likely to get some of the same push-back.

Some other large urban districts, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, have armed officers in school and say it works well for them.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has its own 340-member sworn police force. One or two officers are stationed at each high school and one officer at each middle school, and a group of officers patrols elementary schools as needed, a district spokeswoman said.

“These school police officers are not just police officers,” the spokeswoman said. “They serve a great deal like the social worker on that campus as well. . . . They have established relationships with all their kids. The kids are extremely comfortable with them.”

Ramsey said the department would carefully select the officers for schools.

“It’s important that the right officer be assigned to these schools, with the right mentality, that they see themselves as role models and mentors,” he said.

In the city, 78 officers already are assigned to patrol areas in and around schools, but none is stationed full-time in the schools.

“This would be an expansion of services,” said Zedan, “and collaboration between the district and department.”

  • Troy-polamalu_max50


    about 4 years ago


    i'm all for SRO's being armed; SRO's are cops period and cops carry guns.....pretty basic and elementary I think

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago



  • Life_giving_sword_max50


    about 4 years ago



  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    We already have officers in our middle and high schools, they are "resource" officers for the kids and it is great! Great opportunity for the officers to educate our young children while being present to intervene when neccessary. These young children need to respect our law enforcement officers and also realize they are not the bad guys, they are doing their jobs. There is a lot more going on in schools then there used to be and it is a great use of government money to help protect our schools and build relationships.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    Without a doubt, YES! If the general public only knew what was going on in schools on a daily basis they would be shocked and mortified. The incidents that the media make public are only the tip of the iceberg. Basically, schools are a microcosm of our society.

  • __65_or_so_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I was the first "SRO" in my city. That year I walked into the high school and faced a crowd of students and teachers wondering what would I do IF? It was thought I would be heavy handed and a tyrant. I got to know the kids and the faculty and had a great time. Yes, they were surprised when I made the first arrest in the building. The next day I walked in and everyone asked why I was mad the day before. I told them I was not but that was business. From that day on, I was a friend that could joke with them, and tell them to get it right without hearing the race thingy. My high school was mostly black and I was an old white haired cop. I had the kids come to me after a shooting happened off campus and THEY told me about who was involved and why. Dectectives had the shooters in custody within twelve hours of the incident. One summer, I was responding to a call with a shift officer and when I got there the kids were giving him a hassel and he was dishing it back. They saw me and came to complain that he was picking on them. I asked about the call and who was going to beat them up. They did not know how I knew as they told no one, but one of the kids called dispatch. I told them to listen and not jump up and want to get all uppity. When they realized the first officer thought they were the bad guys, they apologized to him. That cop never forgot that all I did was get out of my cruiser and calmed the situtation.
    I was in the school for my last seven years of my career and made many friends. Students, faculty and parents. I retired in '04 and still get emails from those kids. One of the kids I took to court, I also helped out asking the judge to continue the case until graduation (7 months later)and he did. That kid emailed me recently that he was in the army and a Military Police S/Sgt. One of my kids is a cop in another city and hoping to get into the SRO program there. Yes, even the ones I locked up still write. For them, they got to see a person, not an image. They learned that cops have families and feelings just like they do. I taught them and they also taught me. All the SRO's I know love the job. YES, SRO's should be in the schools. They should be in full uniform. After all, where in your jusridiction is the biggest collection of citizens during the school days.?? And don't they deserve the safety and security we give to home owners? BUT, the SRO has to be able to be their friend but be able to do the job when it is called for. My kids found that out and respected me for it. I will tell everyone, it was the hardest job in Law Enforcement that I ever loved. I went to a football game a couple years after retirement and the kids still came up to me asking me questions about the law and how I was doing and if I was coming back.
    Yes, it is worth it and yes, it is necessary.

  • Robocop_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Armed officers should definitely be in our schools. There was a shooting at the college I was attending a year ago, and 2 people were killed. This unfortunate economic climate is forcing some bad decisions to be made about laying off officers, and failing to hire additional officers. This is the time when police are needed the most, because people are becoming more and more desperate. The bottom line is that students now hold the potential for much more violent behavior than in the 70's 80's and 90's.

  • 474305986_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I just want to say that I'm an SRO in a High School, and I would not work in a school without being armed. Kids are not kids anymore they are young adults and do adult crimes. Shelly Yanoff you should come to my school and see how I work. In the 3 years I have been in the school, it went from fights and drug deals to some thefts now, only because I am there and I dont kiss the kids or the school's A@@. I treat everyone the same if you step out of line you get locked up, because of that reputation I have gained the trust of the students, and they trust that I have their best intrest at heart. School Policing is proactive not reactive. Kids need to kbnow that there is a punishment to go with their crimes, not a hug and a pat un the butt.

  • Patch_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Hell Yes,
    Try teaching in a school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Those guys not only need a gun, but full body armor wouldn't hurt either.

  • Jack_bauer_max50


    about 4 years ago


    So wait, they have state certified police officers working the schools who are already UNarmed?? That's nuts, as an SRO, if they took my gun away, I would turn in the rest of my gear and equipment along with it. Job or not, I didn't sign up to be an armed hall monitor.

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Absolutely! Every school, college and university in this country needs to have an armed, dedicated police presence on campus. Not only because of the massacres like Columbine, VA Tech and Northern Illinois, but because our schools, colleges and universities are incredible open access "everyone is welcome" soft targets for terrorists or a nut with a gun. After all, every one of those campuses are supposed "gun free zones". At least until the bad guys show up and start shooting that is...

  • 48n02-2-9_22-6__max50


    about 4 years ago


    Absolutely yes they should.

  • Me2_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Yes. They should. The school I go to, we don't have a SRO (School resource officer) which is an armed LEO contracted from the sheriff's office or city police. We don't have a big problem like other schools but it would give me a piece of mind that there is someone there. But yes, ESPECIALLY THERE.

  • 183974_10150146586172640_115059992639_7801208_7665591_n_1__max50


    about 4 years ago


    I am going to say YES!!!! Absolutely, I would never ask or volunteer to work the schools in my area if I wasn't armed... Kids these days have more fire power than we do, so I think it is a stupid thing to debate about... Safety first... I would rather be judged by six than carried by twelve...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago

    Very interesting article...I vote YES!

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