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schvitzing:

What could be a more reactionary move toward a police state than putting cops in schools? Melissa Harris-Perry asked, when do school-stationed cops stop protecting kids and start policing them?

I taught in a diverse high school of about 1500. The usual MO was 2-4 cops on duty, often in hot spots like the cafeteria and outside at bus AM arrival and bus loading at day's end. They were often near boys' and girls' locker rooms too, where "scores were settled" because of something that happened during gym. Cops carried radios, cuffs, and a night stick--no guns. In one faculty meeting, the policemen explained simply that they saw more downside to carrying a gun than was warranted, given my school's relatively low rate of serious violence. Most staff members, including me, felt it was the right decision. I still oppose the idea today, though not as much as I vehemently oppose teachers being armed "good guys" as much as nutjobs like LaPierre would have it.

Columbine and the subsequent series of school shootings changed everything. The basic shift in the idea went from police being community liaisons to kids and improving their image as real humans not dedicated to finding small baggies of weed to being in schools for protection. Gone are the days, at least at my school, where cops ate in the cafeteria with groups of kids of different races, put on aprons to serve food occasionally, and even participated in crazy skits at pep sessions. They were largely successful in accomplishing the notion that "we're one of you" and the climate of teen-cop coexistence was improved.

Even though I am lock-step with Harris-Perry's and schvitzing's progressive ideologies, I don't fully agree with their concern that cops in schools are there mainly to "police them." I am convinced that today's kids fully realize that schools are no longer the safe havens they once were in a more idyllic world. So, while watching TV, when they see hordes of kids streaming out of buildings with their hands up after another shooting, they understand why. In general, they don't see cops in their school being there to "dig up dirt" on them. My city's population is the same as Newtown's and the can't-happen-here notion has been indisputably dispelled time and again....

...unfortunately, extremely unfortunately.
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