Last year a Baltimore school police officer pled guilty to assault charges for slapping and kicking a 16-year-old student. In 2015, another school police officer pled guilty to assault charges after walloping an unarmed middle school on the forehead with a baton and pepper spraying two other girls.
These examples of excessive force demonstrate a larger problem for Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) where almost half of BCPS students believe police use excessive force to resolve conflicts. In response to these and other concerns BCPS will present new policies detailing the roles and responsibilities of school police to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners March 20.
The new policies must address excessive use of force, provide due process and formal mechanisms for students and their families to file complaints, as well as address concerns regarding the relationship between the Baltimore School Police Force (BSPF) and the Baltimore Police Department.
All students deserve to learn in safe and supportive school environments. That is not always the reality for Baltimore students, especially those of color, who face heightened risk of being referred to law enforcement for typical school behaviors.
Read the full op-ed here.