Calls to Reconsider Police in Schools After Teen Shot by Officer Likely to Die
Monday, October 4, 2021
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Mona Rodriguez, the teen mom shot by a school resource officer in Long Beach, is brain dead and is expected to be taken off life support.
The officer, who fired at the car after Rodriguez fled the scene of a fight, is on administrative leave - but the incident has reignited debate over the role of police in schools.
Nate Balis is the director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which sponsored a new report from the Sentencing Project on the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.
He recommended that districts pivot toward restorative justice and counseling - so students who misbehave get help rather than get arrested.
"Instead of school being a place where young people grow," said Balis, "young people who get in trouble are pulled away from school rather than engaged in school and end up in the juvenile-justice system. "
Supporters of School Resource Officer programs point to the many examples where school resource officers have protected students from harm. But Balis argued that schools should use some of the extra pandemic funding to revamp their approach to discipline - making it less punitive and more preventive.
Dieter Crawford is the chairperson of community outreach for the Palm Springs Unified School District African American parent advisory council - where the school district is considering reductions to the School Resource Officer program.
"When we did the 2017 youth risk behavior survey," said Crawford, "trust with the police for Hispanic kids was 27% versus 37% for African American youth and 78% for White youth."
Becky Margiotta is a member of police advisory commission in Claremont, a city also re-evaluating the SRO program. She said the advisory committee pored over dozens of studies on police on campus.
"There wasn't a single one that demonstrated the effectiveness of an SRO program for reducing or preventing crime," said Margiotta. "But there is evidence that SRO programs disparately criminalize Black and Brown students."
In the wake of the protests after the death of George Floyd in 2020, school districts in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland voted to remove police officers from campus.
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