DSC Delivers Petition Urging End to Military Weapons in Schools Upon Release of Report by President’s Task Force on Policing

06 Mar in
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On March 2 the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing delivered its recommendations on how to strengthen relationships between law enforcement officers and communities. The Task Force was formed as part of an Executive Order by President Obama after the shooting of Michael Brown by law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri last summer. 
The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) submitted recommendations to the Task Force that can be seen here, calling for the federal government to shift funding from police in schools towards intervention workers and proven positive discipline approaches and to require districts receiving federal funds to prohibit the involvement of law enforcement in routine discipline matters. 
Michael Reynolds of DSC member organization Youth Power Movement of Detroit also spoke at a listening session organized by the Task Force to gather recommendations for their report, and DSC members from 5 states met with the COPS office with the Department of Justice last week to share policy priorities.
The DSC applauds the recommendations offered by the task force including: 
  • Law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to collect, maintain, and analyze demographic data on all detentions (stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests). This data should be disaggregated by school and non-school contacts. 
  • Communities should adopt policies and programs that address the needs of children and youth most at risk for crime or violence and reduce aggressive law enforcement tactics that stigmatize and criminalize youth and marginalize their participation in schools and communities. 
  • Communities need to affirm and recognize the voices of youth in community decision-making, facilitate youth-led research and problem solving, and develop and fund youth leadership training and life skills through positive youth/police collaboration and interactions.
Following the delivery of these recommendations to the White House, the DSC delivered a petition, signed by over one thousand supporters, asking the President and Congress to act to end The Department of Defense's Excess Property Program’s (the “1033 Program”) practice of lending military weapons to law enforcement working in K-12 public schools.  This practice contributes to the criminalization of young people and the harmful use of law enforcement in schools.
The recommendations offered by the Task Force about adopting policies that “reduce aggressive law enforcement tactics” should be applied to the 1033 program in order to build healthier relationships between law enforcement and students. Immediate action is needed to remove these weapons from our nation's public schools and to instead fund and implement proven solutions to improve school climates and safety.