#CounselorsNotCops: SRO Shooting is Another Disturbing Example of Students Placed at Risk from Police in Schools

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December 14, 2016


Contact: Nancy Treviño, (786) 201-8958, nancy@dignityinschools.org 



#CounselorsNotCops: SRO Shooting is Another Disturbing Example of Students Placed at Risk from Police in Schools



New York- Last week, a School Resource Officer in Reno, Nevada shot a 14-year-old student, critically injuring him and putting other students at risk. Subsequently, the Washoe County School District’s Superintendent Traci Davis, applauded the police officer’s actions. 


The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades. Law enforcement officers continue to be called on to address school safety issues and in turn further criminalize and harm students, especially students of color. Due to the bad judgement of a police officer on campus, another student has been attacked and faces life threatening injuries. In addition, other students and school staff were put at risk when shots were fired, and were subjected to the traumatic experience of watching a fellow student nearly lose their life at the hands of school district police. 


When a serious incident happens at a school, we need staff that are trained to de-escalate and keep all members of the community safe. Early reports indicate the student who was shot by the officer had previously been bullied and beaten and had brought a knife to school because he felt his safety was threatened and the school had not responded. Schools should have staff on campus who can intervene early when students have been bullied and harassed and prevent conflicts from escalating. There are models for peacebuilders, outreach workers and other staff who can play this critical role. Schools should be safe spaces where students are loved and supported not criminalized. 


In September, the Dignity in Schools Campaign released our Counselors Not Cops policy platform calling for ending the regular presence of law enforcement in schools. We reaffirm our commitment to stand by what our community of students, parents, educators, advocates and organizers have been saying for years. Instead of SROs being stationed or called in to a school to address school safety issues, trained school staff such as community intervention workers, peacebuilders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors and other support staff, can work with students to prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts. These staff monitor school entrances and ensure a welcoming environment, respond to the root causes of conflict and disruptive behaviors, prevent and intervene to stop intergroup and interethnic tension, and address students’ needs.


When we support students in critical times of need, we create safer school climates.