Los Angeles Unified School District officials have announced that school police will no longer issue citations for most campus fights, petty theft and other minor offenses but instead refer students to counseling and other services.
The move away from punitive law enforcement reflects growing research that treating minor offenses with police actions does not necessarily make campuses safer but often pushes struggling students to drop out and get in more serious trouble with the law, the Los Angeles Times reported.
National studies show that one arrest doubles a student’s risk of dropping out of school, according to Manuel Criollo of the Community Rights Campaign, a Los Angeles civil rights group that has helped spearhead efforts to reduce the police presence on Los Angeles campuses, according to The Times.
“For too long our school playgrounds were minefields of penal code violations and criminalization,” he said in a statement. “We believe this policy reverses that trend by prioritizing supportive and restorative approaches.
The new policy was announced at Manual Arts High School by Los Angeles School Police Department Chief Steven Zipperman and Los Angeles Unified School District board member Monica Garcia. Los Angeles Juvenile Court Judges Michael Nash and Donna Groman were also present for the annoucement.