We need to talk about cops in schools.
After every school shooting, one of the most common solutions proposed by those against gun control is to put more cops, usually called School Resource Officers, on campus.
The problem is these school cops don’t make schools safer. In fact, research shows they often make them more dangerous. Yeah, you heard that right. School Resource Officers make schools less safe.
A Journal of Adolescent Health report found out of 179 shootings on school grounds there was no evidence to support that School Resource Officers lessen the severity of school shooting incidents. In fact, it quite possibly makes them worse. Take it from Jillian Peterson, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Hamline University on CNN:
“What's remarkable is that when you have armed officers on the scene you often see more casualties, often because the shooter is suicidal… They know the officer is there, so they come in heavily armed.”
America is at a crossroads on guns. While we fight to get Congress to enact serious gun control, we also have to fight against bad ideas that put children in our schools at greater risk.
Watch John Oliver in a clip from his HBO show Last Week Tonight lay out the facts and then sign our petition calling for investment in school communities, counselors, and services, not school cops to combat gun violence now!
Eric Madfis is an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Washington Tacoma whose research focuses on the causes and prevention of school violence, hate crimes and mass murder. He’s also the auther of “How to Stop School Rampage Killing: Lessons from Averted Mass Shootings and Bombings.”
His research found that “having an officer in a school does not necessarily serve as a deterrent or mean that a school will not experience an attack. Many student plotters planned to merely kill the resource officer first, and many schools that have experienced a shooting already had such officers on campus.”
Columbine in 1999, Parkland in 2018, and Uvalde… they all had School Resource Officers on campus. Here’s more from Professor Madfis:
“In addition, data suggest that the presence of police officers on school campuses exacerbates the school-to-prison pipeline and makes schools more likely to address disciplinary issues through the justice system.”
Of course cops are more likely to treat students like criminals than children. It’s what they’re trained to do. Which is why it’s frightening to consider that 59% of American schools report having law enforcement on campus and 14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist or social worker.
That means, 14 million kids in school are closer to handcuffs than a medical health professional. It’s time to demand a change. Demand investment in school communities, counselors, and services, not school cops to combat gun violence now!
The evidence that School Resource Officers stop shootings isn’t there, but the evidence of the damage they can do, is significant.
Thank you for taking action in our fight to protect children and teachers from gun violence and make our public schools safer.
Director, National Campaign for Justice
 School Shootings in the U.S.: What Is the State of Evidence?
 A researcher who studies mass shootings explains why an armed security guard would likely not deter a school shooter
 UW Tacoma’s Eric Madfis explores curbing school violence in new book