Law enforcement in our schools

Law enforcement in our schools

December 10th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

A headline atop a recent article in the Times Free Press told a sad story about safety in our Hamilton County schools.

"Schools call for police help thousands of times a year," the headline read.

The article noted that the middle schools and high schools in our county that have a regular sheriff's deputy present sought help from law enforcement an average of 20 times per day during the last school year.

Officers who are already assigned to the schools handled most of the calls for help, while additional officers were called in at times. Twenty of the 33 middle and high schools in the county have a regular sheriff's deputy on site.

All told, there were more than 3,600 calls for police service during the 2010-2011 school year! Those figures do not include any requests for police assistance that might have come from the 13 schools that do not routinely have a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy present!

Thankfully, not all those calls were for serious incidents. Some were for things such as helping with traffic after school.

But authorities made a total of 264 arrests in the schools -- a figure that included more than three dozen felony arrests!

We most assuredly do not fault the public schools that have a regular police presence. We doubt that deputies would be assigned to the schools if there were not a legitimate need for them -- and the numbers of arrests make that need obvious.

But is it not an appalling commentary on our times that law enforcement officers should even be needed in our schools, barring some exceptionally rare and dangerous circumstances?

Doesn't that tell us something deeply troubling -- even alarming -- about where we are heading as a nation?