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Despite No Evidence of Positive Impact on School Safety, Justice Department Awards $45 Million to Fund Additional School Resource Officers Positions Nationwide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

CONTACT: Zerline Hughes
O: 202.558.7974 x 308
M: 202.320.1029
E: zhughes@justicepolicy.org

Despite No Evidence of Positive Impact on School Safety, Justice Department Awards $45 Million to Fund Additional School Resource Officers Positions Nationwide
Funding School Resource Officers Feeds School-to-Prison Pipeline

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Justice Department announced funding awards to 263 cities and counties, aimed at creating 937 law enforcement positions.  More than $125 million will be awarded nationally, including nearly $45 million to fund 356 new school resource officer positions. The news comes after last December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

While some groups have pushed for the Administration to provide funding for more school police in hopes that they would protect schoolchildren from harm, a host of juvenile and criminal justice organizations including the Justice Policy Institute, Campaign for Youth Justice, National Juvenile Justice Network and Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth note that research has shown police in schools have not made schools safer, and they negatively affect our youth by sweeping many of them unnecessarily into the justice system and interfering with the educational process.

“Adding law enforcement officers to our schools is not going to achieve the outcomes we are all looking for,” said JPI Executive Director Marc Schindler. "Though it may sound appealing, adding law enforcement officers to schools typically does’t make kids feel safer, and there is no evidence to show it actually makes kids safer. In fact, it can make kids behave in ways that are not safe. The bottom line is more police in schools will mean more incidents being handled by the courts instead of school principals and social workers, adding to what many call the ‘school to prison pipeline.’Just last month, during the American Bar Association annual conference, Attorney General Eric Holder stated : “A minor school disciplinary offense should put a student in the principal’s office and not a police precinct.” Nevertheless, today's announcement conveys a different message.

“Horrific incidents unfortunately often lead to bad policy," continued Schindler regarding incidents of school violence. "What we should do is to look at the research and experience in the field and be guided by what we know are best practices, and SROs don’t make the grade."

Instead of providing funds for schools to hire officers, we recommend the following:

Read our fact sheet: Measured Responses: Why increasing law enforcement in schools is not an effective public safety response to the Newtown tragedy
Read our report and executive summary: Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools
Read National Juvenile Justice Network's Safe and Effective School Disciplinary Policies and Practices.

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