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The Presence of Police Officers in Schools

By now you have seen the confrontation between a school resource officer and a student in a South Carolina school. The viral video showing the encounter has raised a number of questions about the role of law enforcement in our nation's classrooms.

With a number of questions surrounding the presence of police officers in schools and the various roles they should serve, many judges, psychologists, and civil rights attorneys are urging schools and districts to come up with policies for how police should operate in their schools. These actions address the patchwork of policies that guide police officer operation in schools to date.

While the officer in the South Carolina incident has been fired, some teachers have come out and voiced concerns regarding a lack of police presence in their schools. Some have noted that some of kids in their schools are physically threatening, and given their inexperience and lack of training in dealing with those kinds of situations, the need for this kind of presence still exists.

As Department of Education leaders work with leaders in the teaching industry across the country, there have been a few proposals. These include learning methods of counseling kids or putting families in touch with appropriate counselors in the community that can help them.

Another discussion involves defining what a crime truly is. Law enforcement officials and the schools need to establish lines that divide issues that need to be kept in schools and dealt with by principals, counselors, and other staff and what requires law enforcement intervention.

Meanwhile, there is a growing concern amongst law enforcement officials that removing police presence in schools not only affects student and faculty safety, but eliminates a presence that helps reduce drug activity and other criminal activities that go on within a school's walls.

Searching for a delicate balance between police officers roles within schools and extending teacher responsibilities and training to include experience in handling threatening students will not be easy. One thing is for certain, as the dust from the South Carolina incident settles, it is clear to see we are a long way from a solution.