NYCLU: Over 90 Percent Of Summer School Arrests Involved Students Of Color
For the first time under what's called the School Safety Act, the New York City Police Department has released statistics on student arrests by school safety officers, but civil libertarians say an overwhelming majority of arrests involve students of color. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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The New York Civil Liberties Union took a close look at New York City Police Department statistics and the ethnicity of the 63 public school students who were arrested between July and September of this year.
"Of the people who were arrested, 68 percent were African-American children. The total number of students of color accounted for over 90 percent," said Donna Lieberman of the NYCLU.
The NYCLU says that is a disturbing disparity for black students, who make up only 29 percent of the student population during the school year.
But the period covered by the NYPD report was mostly summer school, when the Department of Education says it does not keep track of demographics.
High school students who spoke with NY1 do not view school safety officers in a positive light and said the officers often treat them like criminals.
One student said he spent several days in jail after being accused of stealing a cellphone.
"Ah man, now I got this on my permanent record," he said. "You see them girls over there laughing, it's not a laughing matter if they see their record and they don't have a good record because of the school system."
School safety officers include about 5,100 peace officers who do not carry guns, as well as 200 regular NYPD officers who do.
"Too aggressive with students. They need to tone it down," said a student. "It is basically with the Hispanics and African-American students. You don't see them doing it to the Caucasian and Chinese students."
"I also believe that the security guards are provoking the students and being too aggressive and also have attitudes too," said another student.
"The Bloomberg administration has to look closely at what police are doing in our schools. Are police arresting kids for minor infractions of school rules?" said Lieberman.
NYPD officials say their school safety program is working. Police say over the last 10 years there has been a nearly 50 percent decrease in major crimes reported and a 45 percent reduction in violent crimes on school grounds.