Should We Allow Police to Use Horry County Schools as Substations?

Educators across the nation are looking for ways to keep guns out of schools in the wake of the latest round of deadly shootings.

But Horry County leaders are considering the opposite approach – they’re considering bringing more guns into schools.

School board Chairman Joe DeFeo wants police to use school buildings as police substations. They could use empty classrooms as offices, eat a free school lunch, surf the Internet, and hang out with the kids…

What could go wrong?

For someone who has been a criminal defense lawyer and has seen the mistakes, incompetence, criminal behavior, and the damage that some police officers can do to adults and children, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me at all. Some of us do not want our children unnecessarily exposed to potential abuse, gunfire, or incarceration.

Welcome to The School of Very Hard Knocks

Student resource officers roam the halls and sometimes use heavy-handed tactics to “discipline” students. Like the sheriff’s deputy in Columbia who assaulted a “disruptive” girl who was sitting at her desk, put her in a headlock, jerked her out of her seat, dragged her across the floor, and threw her across the classroom.

“Zero-tolerance” policies lead administrators to call 911 to deal with normal misbehavior. In Virginia, school officials called police when a kindergartener refused to stop throwing toys and jumping off furniture.

The responding officer handcuffed the 4-year-old boy, put him in the back of a squad car, and took him to jail. When the child’s parents went to the sheriff’s department to pick him up, they found him in leg shackles.

School-To-Prison Pipeline

Research shows that when children are pushed out of the classroom and into handcuffs, they are more likely to remain involved with the criminal justice system as adults. It’s called the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

And whether a student gets sucked into the pipeline largely depends on the color of their skin. African-American children make up 18 percent of U.S. students, but 46 percent of students who are suspended multiple times are black.

If they also have a disability, their chances of avoiding the pipeline drop even more –  a quarter of African-American children with disabilities have been suspended at least once, compared with only 1 in 11 white students with disabilities.

More Cops Is Not the Answer

There is no reason to believe that more police officers in schools will help fix this unfair application of discipline. We know that some cops are racist – intentional or unintentional – if you don’t believe it, just look at the news stories about black men being pulled over, searched, and jailed in disproportionate numbers.

And, we know that some cops are violent – if you don’t believe that, look at how many unarmed civilians have been shot and killed by police officers just in the past few years.

Do we really want to invite a group of people with that kind of track record, with badges, guns, and the authority to arrest, to spend even more time with our children? Do we really want to expose children to the criminal justice system when they should instead be learning their multiplication tables?

SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Columbia, Lexington, and Myrtle Beach

Criminal defense and DUI defense attorney Lacey Thompson only accepts SC criminal defense cases in the Columbia, Lexington, Conway, and Myrtle Beach SC areas. Call at 843-444-6122 or fill out our online contact form if you have questions or to set up a free initial consultation.


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