Home > It's A Legal Matter > Police in schools

Police in schools

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-11-10


Schools are changing. Uniformed police officers, police dogs and squad cars are a normal sight at many high schools and middle schools. When trouble erupts at a school, chances are good that law enforcement is already in the building. Police officers working for the schools are commonly referred to as school resource officers. There are many good reasons for schools to employ police officers.

Meet James. Heís a nice quiet kid whoís in the 9th grade. Each morning, James waves to the school resource officer, Officer King, and his K-9 partner. (James, Officer King and the dog arenít real). Officer King once let James sit in his squad car and activate the lights. Officer King talks to the students about safety issues.

On the bus ride to school, James is irritable. His earphones arenít working and he feels the other kids are too loud. James puts his head in his lap and starts thinking about some of his favorite action figures. This usually makes him happy, but not today.

During second period, James knocks over a globe. His teacher tells him to pick it up. James refuses and sits down. Within a short time, Officer King enters the classroom and escorts James to the assistant principalís office. Officer King sits next to James while the assistant principal asks James a few questions. A decision is made to arrest James on a charge of disorderly conduct. Officer King transports James to a juvenile detention facility. Once there, representatives from the juvenile center contact Jamesí mother.

Jamesí mom is upset. She is disappointed that her son misbehaved in school. She is curious why the school never called her. She is afraid that the school doesnít want to help James. She wants to know why and how the assistant principal questioned James without her. She thinks James is being treated like a criminal. She believes Jamesí rights were violated. She wonders if the school knows that Jamesí doctor just started him on a new medication.

School resource officers can accomplish great things within schools. They mentor kids and provide valuable guidance. They can also help to assess potential threats and keep kids safe. Unfortunately, many schools turn too quickly to school resource officers. Instead of resolving behavioral and disciplinary issues within the school, some school administrators pass the children over to the juvenile justice system.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you










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