City Will Require Police to Report on School Arrests
Resource type: News
The New York Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]
Originally Published: 20 December 2010
By NOAH ROSENBERG
The New York City Council voted on Monday to require the Police and Education Departments to produce regular reports on arrests, summonses and suspensions of public school students, a victory for civil liberties advocates who say that the school police have sometimes been too aggressive in trying to keep order.
The measure, which was introduced in August 2008, was approved unanimously after compromises were made to satisfy the police and education officials.
A proposal to require the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which hears complaints about police abuse, to also handle complaints about school safety officers had been removed. Instead, 311 operators will transfer complaints to the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
Groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund have complained for years that the school safety officers, who are members of the Police Department, as well as regular police officers tend to overreact, making arrests or writing summonses for infractions as minor as writing on a desk.
Due to federal restrictions on education data, arrests and summonses will be broken down by borough command, but not by school, and will be submitted to the Council quarterly.
Information on suspensions and student discipline will be available by school and will be issued by the Department of Education on a biannual and yearly basis, respectively. All data will be organized according to students’ age, grade, race, ethnicity, sex and any special education or English-language program enrollment, and will be available online.
The Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, praised the legislation for the “unprecedented information” it would provide. “This information will be a valuable new tool to help keep our children and our school employees safe,” she said.
The N.Y.C.L.U. hailed the legislation as “the most progressive bill of its kind.” The organization’s executive director, Donna Lieberman, said it would address the “monumental disconnect” that had surrounded school security since responsibilities were transferred to the police in 1998.
“The Student Safety Act is about shining a light on the impact of school safety practices in the schools, on the children, on education,” Ms. Lieberman said.
The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said his agency had no objections to the revised bill, which he said had been “carefully negotiated.”
And the Department of Education said it was deeply committed to the underlying goal of the legislation. The measure takes effect in 90 days.