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[Policy Brief 2020] The Presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in America's Schools

Communities across the country have come together to demand meaningful
changes to law enforcement practices in the wake of the tragic murders of George
Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of the police. The focus
has rightly been on how deadly police actions have had an outsized impact on
communities of color. These calls for action have delivered some immediate
victories, including changes in leadership in some law enforcement agencies as well
as cultural paradigm shifts, such as calls to defund the police and invest those
resources into community-designed and community-owned public safety
strategies. Minneapolis, the epicenter of the movement, passed legislation to
dismantle the police department and revisit that city’s law enforcement and public
safety strategies. This movement for reform extends beyond municipal police
departments. In fact, one of the first demands from community advocates in
Minneapolis was to remove police from within city schools.

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The presence of law enforcement in schools has been a controversial issue for
decades. Dual concerns about rising rates of violence among youth coupled with
increased attention paid to school shootings were a catalyst for federal funding for
more police, frequently referred to as “School Resource Officers” (SROs), in schools.
In fact, rates of youth violence were plummeting independent of law enforcement
interventions and the impact of SROs on school shootings has been dubious at best.
Additionally, SROs have been linked with exacerbating racial disparities in justice
involvement and youth being driven deeper into the juvenile and adult criminal
justice systems. Rather than preventing crime, SROs have been linked with increased
arrests for non-criminal, youthful behavior, commonly known as the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Read the full brief: 

 

Posted in Juvenile Justice

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