A Plea For Copping

In June 2020, the United Teachers of Los Angeles passed a motion to eliminate school police, and replace them with counselors and mental health programs. The union asserted, “Police presence in schools leads to negative outcomes for Black and Brown students, who are arrested and disciplined at higher rates than their peers.” Then, like an obedient puppy, the Los Angeles Unified School District board decided in February of this year to cut 133 or about 40 percent of its school cops in favor of kinder and gentler “climate coaches.” It was also decided that police will no longer patrol campuses, and will only be called upon to respond in-person during emergencies.

Interestingly, George McKenna, the only black L.A.U.S.D. school board member, protested the move. “The school police were never a danger to the students,” he said. “Are you under the assumption that there are no Crips, no Bloods, no gangs out there, and we’re going to do this with social workers?”

It’s worth noting that L.A. isn’t the only city to give cops the boot. Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Pomona did the same. Caroline Lucas, a youth organizer who advocated for the removal of officers at her school, Pomona High, encapsulates the spirit of the day. “For me, it means that leaders can experiment with what transformative activists have been trying to do.”

Well, the school districts have learned, like Dr. Frankenstein, that not all experiments turn out well. Pomona got a wake-up call after a shooting near Pomona High School left a 12-year-old injured by broken glass and debris. Seeing the light, the school board reversed course, and in a unanimous vote brought back the police after a four-month hiatus, stating that student safety is paramount.

Additionally, there has been a rise in violence in Los Angeles schools since the police were cut back. Using data from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, CBS News reports that between August and October of this year, there were 108 assaults, with 16 students requiring hospitalization. Police sources add that 44 weapons recovered, including five handguns and 32 knives.

On November 18, in school police-free Sacramento, several teachers were injured while trying to quell a student brawl that had broken out. The Sacramento Police Department had to be called in to restore order.

Across the country, kids are stressed, and are acting out. Badly. Per the Washington Post, “The National Association of School Resource Officers reports that this year, from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1, there were 97 reported gun-related incidents in schools. During the same span in 2019, there were 29.” The Post also reports,“Everytown for Gun Safety, a lobby group for gun restrictions, tallies 56 instances of gunfire on school grounds in August and September of 2021. That is higher for those two months than any year since the group began tracking incidents in 2013, and more than double the previous high of 22 in 2019. It also found record numbers of deaths, at eight, and injuries, with 35.” So, while kicking cops off campus is generally a bad idea, it is especially insane to do so at the same time students are returning to campus after extended COVID-related shutdowns.

In light of the recent crime wave, the defunder’s arguments have turned to mush. Grasping at imperceptible straws, The 74 reports, “School-Based Cops Reduce Campus Violence—But at a Steep Cost, Especially for Black Students.” The thrust behind the piece is that while cops do indeed make campuses safer, their presence “increases the number of students facing suspensions, expulsions and arrests, particularly if they are Black.”

Well, if students of any color are committing crimes, perhaps they should be suspended, expelled and arrested. Always left out of the cop-as-racist narrative is that in our rigid public education system, students are typically forced to attend the school that is in their immediate neighborhood. Since ethnic groups tend to gravitate together, most students at a given school are of the same ethnicity. Hence, when there is a black perp, there is likely a black victim. Somehow this obvious fact is never mentioned in the racialist’s narrative.

One rarely acknowledged reason for greater black crime is that about 70 percent of black kids grow up in single parent homes. As American Enterprise Institute researcher Max Eden states, “Students who come from a single-family household are twice as likely to get suspended. Black students are about three times as likely to come from a single-family household. They’re about three times as likely to get suspended.”

It’s important to note that boots on the ground teachers do not approve of defunding the police. In a recently released national Heritage Foundation survey, one of the questions asked was, “Do you think defunding school resource officers will make schools more safe?” Just 7 percent of teachers responded affirmatively. Additionally, an Ed Week Research Center poll from 2020 showed that, when asked if armed police officers should be eliminated from our nation’s schools, only 20 percent of teachers, principals, and district leaders completely or partly agreed.

Also, in Los Angeles, a district-commissioned survey found that 72 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander parents, 67 percent of Hispanic parents, 54 percent of white parents and 50 percent of black parents agreed that a police presence in schools made schools safer.

Those in favor of eliminating or severely cutting back school police are motivated by a utopian political agenda that is dangerous to children and adults alike. School districts are learning this the hard way, at the expense of the very children they’re entrusted to protect. Hopefully, the defunding “experiment” will soon be a distant memory.

Editor’s Note:  A version of this article originally appeared at For Kids and Country

About Larry Sand

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network—a nonpartisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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