Responding to video exhibiting Police Officer Nicholas Scalzo repeatedly punch a teenage woman exterior a center college final month, Mayor Adams stated he was “not happy,” and the NYPD suspended Scalzo with out pay. That’s not sufficient.
These of us who intently watch police disciplinary proceedings have good cause to imagine that no matter else Metropolis Corridor or 1 Police Plaza say, the most certainly situation for Scalzo is that he’ll come out within the clear, with no additional disciplinary motion. Not solely that, however even when Scalzo is punished, we all know that gained’t cease the following youngster, or the following after that, from being assaulted.
Town must restart the stalled plan to maneuver school safety agents outside of the NYPD, and take steps to take away NYPD officers from colleges solely.
My group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, has for many years challenged the racist practices of the NYPD — most notably once we sued the division to have them dump “cease and frisk.” Our children deserve higher than having armed adults round who see them solely as potential criminals, and see that as a license to reply violently.
Researchers finding out the affect of elevated police presence in colleges discovered that there isn’t any affect on critical crime, however that incidents of “non-serious violent crime” (that’s, preventing) are more likely to be reported to law enforcement when a school adds School Resource Officers (SROs), regulation enforcement officers with energy to arrest who’re virtually all the time armed and work in colleges.
And when the Congressional Analysis Service checked out college useful resource officers way back to 2013, it may discover no proof that SROs make colleges safer, however famous there was analysis suggesting that “children in schools with SROs might be more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses.”
The case involving Scalzo is appalling — within the video, we see Scalzo punch a toddler along with his closed fist no less than 9 occasions whereas the woman geese and holds her palms on her head for cover. However this use of power is commonly condoned by the NYPD disciplinary system. Based on the NYPD Patrol Information, officers are allowed to make use of “the reasonable force necessary to gain control or custody of a subject.” Officers are instructed to think about a topic’s age, but it surely’s solely one in all 11 components to think about, together with whether or not a topic used power or tried to withstand the officer.
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Below these requirements, the NYPD exonerates an astonishing diploma of violent conduct. For instance, in June 2022, an NYPD official discovered that officers acted fairly after they knelt on a person’s again, repeatedly punched and kicked him in mild of the truth that he was not consenting to a strip search and “squirming.” The sufferer’s age doesn’t appear to make a lot distinction, both. Two months earlier, the NYPD tried two officers who had stopped two kids — ages 12 and eight — who had been holding sticks while walking alongside a park. The NYPD official discovered that one of many officers had carried out an illegal cease, however that the opposite, who had drawn his gun, didn’t.
And even when the NYPD have been to search out Scalzo responsible, its personal disciplinary matrix would solely advocate a penalty of 10 trip days — just a few greater than Officer James Frascatore received for attacking James Blake. LatinoJustice reported final 12 months that the majority officers who lie throughout CCRB interviews are not even punished; NYPD’s inner system is unlikely to offer significant deterrent to Scalzo.
However even when punishment have been meted out commonly, we now have seen that the prospect doesn’t function a deterrent to utilizing power. The mere introduction of police techniques, police coaching, and police use-of-force insurance policies into the college setting essentially results in violence in direction of youngsters. We noticed the end in September 2021, when a college useful resource officer in Lengthy Seaside, intervening in a combat close to college grounds, ultimately shot and killed eighteen-year outdated Mona Rodriguez.
So, whether or not the NYPD punishes Scalzo or not, or others who commit related acts, to maintain our youngsters secure we should cut back the NYPD presence in colleges.
Having law enforcement officials in colleges disproportionately will increase the likelihood that Black and Brown schoolchildren will likely be subjected to police techniques. The most recent quarterly report confirmed that the NYPD had greater than 4,000 interventions with college students within the fourth quarter of 2022. The overwhelming variety of these college students have been Black and Latino. Solely a small share have been white.
It’s time for New York Metropolis to take away officers from colleges and supply the Division of Schooling ample sources to advertise various security measures in colleges.
Case is senior counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.