Brutal police officers don’t belong in public schools

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From pre-kindergarten onwards, many public school students see police officers almost every day. Whether it’s in Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), in an assembly, or just in the halls, police officers are a significant presence in school.

School police officers serve many purposes: They teach students about drug resistance, help prevent violence in schools, and often serve as friendly faces. Sometimes, however, school police officers are the ones causing violence in public schools — last week, a video surfaced online of a school police officer in Columbia, South Carolina flipping over a student’s desk and throwing her to the ground.

Although some claim the officer’s actions were justified — the student had refused to leave the classroom before the officer struck her — nothing short of a gun in the classroom justifies such violence against a high school student.

The officer, a white man, has garnered well-deserved condemnation from proponents of the Black Lives Matter movement for his violence against the black student, and has since been fired from his position at the school.

As police officers become commonplace in schools, they bring into the classroom tactics used to fight crime in the streets. School police officers are becoming figures of intimidation, rather than the role models they’re intended to be.

With police officers stationed in schools, wayward students follow a pipeline straight from high school to prison, contributing to an overfilled, ineffective, and ultimately broken prison system. Although school police officers are supposed to be trained in defensive discipline, the video shows that such training is not always effective.

The cons of having police officers in our schools outweigh the pros. We must rethink a system that keeps high school students in line with brutality, and replace it with one based on more constructive disciplinary tactics.