Cops in schools still a good idea

Mistrust, even active hatred of law enforcement personnel have become widespread to the point of becoming dangerous. One need not be a defender of the tiny minority of “bad cops” to recognize that.

Of course they need to be purged from police and sheriff’s departments as well as other local, state and federal law enforcement entities. George Floyd’s brutal death at the hands of a few Minneapolis police officers has united Americans in demanding that.

But any law enforcement presence in our schools needs to be eliminated, some insist. Critics of officers and deputies patrolling school say their presence intimidates minority students and contributes to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that targets minorities.

Fortunately, a counter campaign against removal of all law enforcement personnel from schools is being mounted. Among its champions are some leaders in Black and Indigenous education communities, The Associated Press reports.

They recognize that for many students, both minority and white, presence of what some communities call school resource officers is a very good thing.

Often, resource officers build new bridges between law enforcement and minority communities. They can serve as lifelines for troubled youths of any race.

It is not rare for students in trouble ­– too often, sadly, because of parental abuse or neglect — to turn to resource officers for help.

The AP reported that in June, San Francisco’s school board considered ending an agreement with the police department, but sought input on that from the African American Parent Advisory Council. “In a letter to the board, the group said it was divided: Some saw school resource officers as the only positive relationship between police and schools.”

Precisely. Should use of law enforcement personnel in schools be discussed? Absolutely. But should a sweeping philosophy that they need to be pulled out be adopted?

No. That could endanger many of the very youths we should be doing all we can to protect.


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