Almost 900 arrests occurred in New York City public schools during the 2011-12 school year, according to New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman in a New York Times column blasting the NYPD's School Safety Division for what she sees as an outsized and unwarranted presence in schools.
"School Safety operates in schools without a mandate for officers to follow the leadership and direction of the educators," Lieberman said in an interview yesterday. "There's a 5,000 person force sent into the schools with police tactics and strategies as their first line of approach, which is often incompatible with what the educators would do."
Marge Feinberg at the Department of Education said that it is "absolutely not" accurate that NYC public school officials do not have authority over on-site police officers.
In one example of aggressive in-school policing, Lieberman said, a 14-year-old South Bronx student Natalie reportedly refused to clear her area after lunch and tried to push back when a male officer grabbed her from behind. The officer dragged the ninth grader out of the cafeteria, threw her to the ground, and cuffed her. Lieberman said that after this encounter, Natalie dreaded going to school, started cutting class, and ultimately had to repeat an entire grade.
Feinberg said violent crime is down nearly 40 percent since 2001.