WASHINGTON - The Fairfax County NAACP is demanding reform for the School Resource Officers program at a time when the country is on edge in the aftermath of the deadly mass school shooting in Florida.
The civil rights organization said African American and minority students are disproportionately targeted and points out to newly-released data.
At Sandburg Middle School in Alexandria, a reported 95 percent of students at the school arrested were either African American or Latino. For the entire county, nearly 30 percent of students arrested were African American.
The Fairfax County NAACP said most of the arrests were not safety-related. Seventy-five arrests were reportedly for disorderly conduct, 29 students were arrested for trespassing and 23 students were arrested for grand larceny.
The group said there has been no response from Fairfax County Public Schools regarding their concerns so far.
“We would like the Fairfax [County] Police Department and the school board to focus on four main things,” said Fairfax County NAACP President Kofi Annan. “We want them to stop racial profiling, which is actually written into their policy – their stop and frisk policies. We also want them to narrow their scope so they are only focusing on safety issues so that kids don’t get arrested for things that they normally would do – just regular kid stuff. We want them to get parents more involved so that kids can’t be questioned or interrogated or searched or things like that without parents knowing about it. We also want them to stop being able to flip back and forth between being administrators and being police officers whenever they choose to.”
Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement:
The NAACP provided the data to FCPS earlier today. FCPS will review the data in collaboration with our law enforcement partners. School Resource Officers are assigned to each FCPS middle school, secondary school and high school. They are one element of each school’s overall safety and security plan that is designed to protect students and staff. SROs provide resources to assist school administrators in maintaining a safe learning environment.
The Fairfax County NAACP said school resource officers with police powers are a double-edged sword. While they are there to protect students, students in trouble could also face lifelong consequences with a criminal record.