Target: New York City Police Department
Goal: Stop arresting students for actions that should be handled by the school.
Recently, New York City released statistics on students arrested in public schools. The statistics were shocking: in the space of three months, over 300 students were arrested. This prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to take a close look at the police force presence in these schools. The results of this show that the police are punishing these students too harshly for actions that should be punished by the school itself.
Students were arrested for ‘disorderly conduct’, which is a category that includes a wide variety of actions, including such innocuous things as writing on a desk or cursing. These are clearly actions which should be punished by the school, and do not warrant an arrest for a young teenager. The statistics also show that of these students arrested for small infractions, 19% were under the age of fifteen, and over 60% were black or Latino students. This has led many students and parents to believe that they are not being arrested for their actions, but instead for their age and race.
Arresting these students is too harsh a punishment for what they have done. Their ‘crimes’ may not be appropriate for a school setting, but hardly justify police involvement. The multiple arrests are negatively affecting these young students by grounding distrust of police officers in them. Students should feel safe in their school and not worry about facing jail or a hefty fine for a small infraction or because of their race or age.
Dear New York City Police Department:
In the past year, hundreds of students in New York’s public schools have been arrested for minor offenses. These offenses include things such as cursing and writing on a desk. The arrest of these students is too harsh a punishment for such a small crime. Additionally, many of the students arrested are black or Latino, which leads to these students and their families suspecting racial motivations for the arrests.
I ask you to leave the punishment of minor offenses to the school. Arresting these students is only leading them to believe they cannot trust police officers, especially if they believe they are being arrested on the basis of race. The staggering number of students arrested shows that the arrests are not deterring the actions of these students, but are only sowing distrust of the police force among the students. Punishments for small offenses committed on school grounds should be left to the school.
[Your Name Here]