Juvenile crime is a crucial topic that is addressed and heavily emphasized in most states. The overall belief that the youth of today are the future coaxes leaders, legislators, and parents to avidly prepare children to become productive members of society. Most of this development occurs in school where they spend large quantities of their time. But in Washington, school is just not a place for students to learn subjects such as science and math, it is also a place where children will have their first personal interactions with law enforcement. Statistics reveal that 84 out of the state's 100 largest schools have officers have assigned patrol officers on duty. Whether this constant presence of authorities on school campuses proves to be beneficial or harmful has been up for debate for awhile.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently released an in-depth report focusing on Washington law enforcement's presence in public schools and its effect on the attending students. The results were astounding. The union compiled data that revealed that throughout the course of the last 20 years, police have apprehended approximately 800 students for charges of “disturbing a school.” This crime has included a variety of behaviors, ranging from writing on a desk and uttering curse words to deploying “fart spray” and flinging chocolate milk in the school cafeteria. For the most part, these are normal events that go on in schools across the nation, but lots of children in Washington have had criminal offenses pinned on them due to their constant exposure to law enforcement. Also, only 25 schools out of the 84 occupied by authorities require these officers to undergo specialized training for dealing with youth.
The report titled Students Not Suspects: The Need to Reform School Policing In Washington starts with the case of a young boy named Tucker. He's a 13-year-old black student in the state who arrested for merely murmuring a curse word to himself. When his teacher ordered him to stand outside in cold Washington weather without a coat, he refused. His teacher called the school police officer, who grabbed Tucker and slammed him to the ground. When Tucker flailed his arms and legs, the officer placed his knee on the back of his head. Soon after he was arrested and booked into juvenile with the crime of “disturbing school” and “disrupting a law enforcement officer” on his record. The report also highlighted implications of racial bias in the placement of police officers. The data revealed that schools in low-income areas with minority students consistently contained law enforcement.
The report even had accounts from students in these schools and their experiences with police. An anonymous student in King County accounted their experience. “You have police,” the student said. “You have all of these security guards. There are security cameras everywhere you go, in your class and even outside the bathroom. They treat you like you're always about to do something.” Washington police have yet to comment on the report.
If your child has been apprehended on criminal charges, you are entitled to a quality defense. Call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.