September 29, 2020
Hometown hero, retired two-time Super Bowl champion, and Maryland public schools dad Torrey Smith hit the nail on the head when he explained what many students, parents, and communities of color have been saying for years: regular police presence in schools makes our students less safe, not more.
Studies show that when officers are in schools, they arrest students for childhood behaviors, like fighting and disruption, that might merit a trip to the principal’s office but not criminal charges. Black students and students with disabilities are particularly at risk, facing disproportionate rates of school-based arrest. At the same time, police presence has not deterred school shootings or reduced any kind of school violence at all. Putting police in schools criminalizes kids for being kids while doing nothing to improve school safety. Check out Torrey’s brief video remarks here.
This week, the Maryland House of Delegates Work Group on Police Reform and Accountability begins debate on its police reform recommendations for the 2021 legislative session.
If your delegate is a member of the Work Group listed below, email them to ask them to support a recommendation to get police out of schools, and to reinvest the $10 million a year Maryland spends on school police in student mental health services, restorative practices, and wraparound supports, interventions shown to actually make schools safer.
The Work Group will be debating its recommendations in work sessions on October 1, October 8, October 15, and October 22, so it is important for members to hear from you in the next three weeks.
Work Group members include:
Vanessa Atterbeary, Chair, email@example.com
Gabriel Acevero, firstname.lastname@example.org
Curt Anderson, email@example.com
Darryl Barnes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Davis, email@example.com
Wanika Fisher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Jackson, email@example.com
David Moon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel Rosenberg, email@example.com
Sheree Sample-Hughes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Not sure if your delegate is on this list? Click here to find out.
Sample email text:
Dear Delegate [Last Name]:
I am writing to you as a constituent.
Police officers patrol school buildings in every district in Maryland but ultimately their presence does more harm than good. Studies show that school police do not deter school shootings or reduce any kind of school violence. At the same time, school police arrest students for childhood behaviors, like fighting and disruption, that might merit a trip to the principal’s office but not a ride in a police car; nearly 70% of school-based arrests are for physical altercations without weapons, disruption, or more minor conduct. Black students received 56% of school-based arrests, even though they are only about a third of the student population and behave no differently from their white peers. Students with disabilities often face arrest for non-violent disability-related behavior and therefore receive 23% of arrests even though they are only about 12% of the student population. Each of these arrests can cause irreversible damage, traumatizing children, derailing their education, and making it more likely that they will come into contact with the criminal system as adults. Despite the failures and harms of the school policing model, Maryland spends $10 million in state funds per year to put police in schools under the “Safe to Learn” Act.
Please urge the House Work Group on Police Reform and Accountability, of which you are a member, to recommend legislation to remove police from schools and reinvest the $10 million/year state school police fund in student mental health services, restorative practices, and wraparound services, interventions shown to actually make schools safer. I am counting on your leadership to help truly make schools safer for all of Maryland’s students.
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