According to Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), more police in schools hurt non-white students. Bowman blamed racism for his stance, but statistically there’s nothing to back it up.
Bowman argued on MSNBC Prime that “when there are more police in schools, because of the explicit and implicit racism that still exists within law enforcement that we don’t deal with consistently, black and brown kids are going to continue to suffer and we’re going to continue to support the school-to-prison pipeline.”
It couldn’t be because of the students’ actions, right? It’s the fault of the police when they react to a situation. No school policy, police department policy, state or federal law includes racism as a driving factor for arrests or law enforcement interaction.
Placing more law enforcement officers in school will make schools safer. Even if Bowman is correct, and he’s not, more law enforcement wouldn’t create more negative police interactions with police. The number of interactions would stay the same but it would allow more oversight on individual situations when law enforcement engagements occur.
Bowman isn’t incorrect in saying that there are isolated instances of racial bias in police officers. Every now and then it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination for a bad police officer to get hired as a school police officer and target a specific demographic of students. What’s important is that the statistical likelihood of that happening is extremely low.
Bowman then said, “I can talk about when I was a dean of students before becoming a principal, and the police consistently targeted my students because of their ‘misbehavior.’ But they target them aggressively, more aggressively because they were black or brown.”
That’s a large claim, but it’s likely false. Bowman was dean of a school in the Bronx which is a very diverse place. World Population Review reported that the Bronx is 45.8% white, 43% black, 4% Asian, 3% are Native Americans and 3% are mixed race. They also reported that “54% of the population is of Hispanic or Latino origin.”
With the majority of the Bronx being non-white, there’s a greater possibility that police were dealing with normal issues with students but dealt with more non-white students because of the demographic rather than any racist intent.
Bowman said that instead of more police, we should place a “ban on assault rifles, more mental health support for kids, and more support for teachers overall, and preparedness in terms of recognizing the red flags that are happening in our schools.”
There’s a big problem here: criminals aren’t going to give up their guns.