Archive for the Police in Schools Category

Police and Teenagers: What We Need To Know About Each Other

Captain Nick Frances (Apple Valley, MN, police department) recently co-wrote an article for the Journal of School Safety with Grace Richarda, a local high school teen. The article offers advice, from both perspectives, about how to better understand and communicate with each other.

We live in a changing and evolving world, made even more complex by the advent of digital communication. While teens may prefer to communicate digitally or “virtually,” in the police world, a vast majority of contact happens face to face. Each group has it’s own cultural norms that the other might not fully understand or appreciate. With some solid communication and an open mind, teens and police can get along and even appreciate each other.

Read the full article (PDF) »
(Reprinted with permission of the author.)

 

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Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative: A Community-based Approach To SROs

Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative Logo

The fall issue of School Safety, a NASRO publication, features an article by John Rosiak about how the Cambridge (MA) Police Department is effectively diverting youth from the justice system through an innovative program called Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative. The Safety Net Collaborative brings together SROs, community service providers, schools, and families in a coordinated approach that focuses on prevention, early intervention, and diversion.

Read the full article by John Rosiak (PFD) »
(Reprinted with permission of NASRO and John Rosiak.)

 

Counting Kids: The Value of Data Collection for Policing Youth Effectively

Data, Data, Data!

Sergeant. Schwob“If law enforcement expect the public to not only understand but support our efforts,” said Sergeant David Schwob of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, “the more information we give out, the more they will understand and support what we do.”

For the past five years, Sergeant Schwob has been collecting data – lots of data – about the CMPD’s effectiveness in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’m a numbers oriented person anyway,” he said, “ but when it comes to getting funding, or manpower, or anything I need to expand the effectiveness of the program, you need to have something to back it up.”

Hoping to accurately capture CMPD school resource officers’ performance in the Charlotte public school system, Sergeant Schwob began collecting data by hand, and continued to do so for his first few years in the school resource program.

At first it was slow going, he said; but when Chief Rodney Monroe was appointed head of the CMPD in 2008, a new emphasis was placed on data throughout the department and Sergeant Schwob found himself ahead of the curve.

“With command staff support,” he said, “we were able to grow into what we are now, and we’re taking that to a new level.” Recent data collection initiatives are focused on disproportionate minority contact and diversion, both priorities of Chief Monroe.

What You Can Do With the Information

Sergeant Schwob is now focused on not only the number of arrests, but on who is being arrested and why.  Schwob’s analysis led him to conclude that 49% of school-based arrests were for minor offenses, a number that was too high and needed to be addressed. Without his real-time, systematic approach to data collection, Sergeant Schwob would not have been able to develop a strategy for reducing arrests for minor offenses and slowing the effect of the “school to prison” pipeline.

Sergeant Schwob’s careful data collection has  garnered interagency support for the CMPD’s use of diversion with juveniles. Rather than face criminal charges and be sent to juvenile court, some young people end up in “teen court,” a peer to peer mediation tool that many say is much more effective than conventional methods.

“We’re now diverting about 350 kids away from the criminal justice system,” said Sergeant Schwob. “It shows that we’re trying to correct behavior, not just put an arrest on somebody that could dictate their life in a negative way.”

Ultimately, Sergeant Schwob hopes that all of this data – arrests, the demographics of arrest, diversion – will be open and easily accessible to the public. Arrest numbers are already available online and organized by division.

“The data tells the public what we are doing, where their funding goes to, what officers are doing and what their productivity is,” said Sergeant Schwob. “The community wants to understand that the schools are safe and their kids are being taken care of – this information is very important.”

Would you like to learn more about this promising practice? Write to  Sergeant Schwob at dschwob@cmpd.org.

UPDATE (February 25, 2013): Data collection was recently ordered by the New York State legislature in  an effort to better understand the level of school exclusion and school-based arrests occurring in the New York City public schools. The link below describes the provisions of the act and the obligations the New York Police Department and the city’s Department of Education must meet: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=821375&GUID=BE5ED174-255F-4944-A1D5-331DD105E8CB&Options=ID|Text|&Search=STUDENT+SAFETY

School Resource Officer search screenSchool Resource Officer web page screen

Changing the Playbook for Police in Schools

Something had to give. The courts were paralyzed by the influx of youth arrested in the schools. The police could not keep up with the paperwork demands of all the arrests, much less the court time or the time out of the schools. Youth were dropping out of school at record rates.  Youth advocates were up in arms over so many youth missing so much class time waiting in court. Everyone was angry.

And something gave.

C.C.P.D. SRO Kenneth Cameron utilizing our Notice of Offense protocol with one of his studentsLed by Judge Steven Teske of the Clayton County Juvenile Court, each stakeholder was persuaded to give up a bit of their control and to reconsider the value and purpose of arresting youth in school.  “I made it clear that I thought the practice was harmful to children, a bad use of resources, and a bad message to be giving kids about school,” said Judge Teske.

In 2004, Clayton County Juvenile Court, Clayton County Police Department and the Clayton County Public School District chose a new, proactive approach to policing schools.  In what is now considered a model program, promoted and replicated by judges and school districts across the nation, police presence in schools employs an educational and counseling approach, graduated sanctions and warnings are used, and arrest is saved for serious infractions and used as a last resort.

“The collaborative approach we are using is the key,” says Adolphus Graves, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Coordinator for Clayton County.  “The court had to be willing to hear the concerns of the police department, school system administrators and vice versa.  Our goal is to keep schools safe without diluting the powers of the police by putting so much police attention on infractions that are much less serious in nature.”

An agreement known as The School Referral Reduction Protocol was reached that identified 5 focus acts which would lead to school-based, educational responses to correct misconduct, and not to arrest. The Protocol [PDF] defines its terms and the triage approach as well as makes provision for emergency shelter care when parents cannot be located.

Youth would first get a warning when they committed any of the 5 focus acts which are Affray (mutual fighting between two participants), Disorderly Conduct, Disrupting a Public School, Criminal Trespass, and Misdemeanor Obstruction (failing to obey the commands of a police officer). The Warning [PDF] notes potential consequences, including court referrals, and requires parents to attend a workshop with their child or risk the child going to court.

Other youth would get a referral when they had previously received a warning for acts noted above and/or had been involved in bullying.  Youth who receive a referral must attend a School Conflict Diversion Program or a Mediation Program, with their parent(s).

Police will file a complaint when a youth has received a 3rd or 4th offense against public order or a third bullying offense.

This collaborative effort led to the use of a triage system with 980 youth from the schools between 2003 and 2004. Statistically, the results were impressive: Of the 980 youth who went through the new system, only 98 (10%) were guilty of re-offending within a two year period.  This approach saved police and probation officer time and resources, it reduced the number of days students were missing to attend court.

“It was hard at first,” said Sgt. Marc Richards who now leads the program as Sub Commander of the Clayton County Police Department.  Richards speaks to police departments across the nation about how effective the program is.

“A police response is typically, ‘When an infraction is committed, it’s my job to arrest.’ They didn’t want to delve deeper into why a kid was behaving badly. So we had to change that.”

Richards explained that with the development of this protocol, it was easier and quicker to go through the protocol, document the issue and issue a ticket to a student than to arrest them.  “Over time using the protocol was easier and more effective. It’s shorter than a complaint form.”

“It was more effective because we could distinguish kids who took the warning seriously from those who did not. With those who heard us we could focus on developing a relationship with them and they’d feel that you’d taken care of them and they became your eyes and ears in the school.”

“We showed that this approach could save a lot of valuable resources and time for probation officers who used to be overwhelmed by the number of school based arrests for low level offenses committed by children who wouldn’t receive further charges anyway,” said Graves.  “Now they have reasonable caseloads and the time to focus on kids who really need the supervision, which creates a safer community for all.”

Now police officers are focusing much less on arrests and much more on being available to counsel youth or just be there for them. “So many kids need more time from their parents than they can get. We found that by taking that parenting role a bit, we could get better behavior from the kids, less arrests, and safer schools,” Richards said.

“Now we’re in a win-win situation,” said Judge Teske. “Schools focus on educating kids academically and behaviorally, and kids feel it is their safe haven; the police use their powers selectively for kids who really pose a danger, and the court focuses on the kids who need the most services and support. That’s the balance
we needed to achieve.”

Interested? Contact:

Sgt. Marc Richards at marc.richards@co.clayton.ga.us
Adolphus Graves at adolphus.graves@co.clayton.ga.us