In today’s America, police officers commonly roam the halls of schools, along with students, teachers, coaches and counselors. But it wasn’t always that way, and a growing number of critics argue that it shouldn’t be that way in the future. The roots and evolution of deploying police in schools, and the controversial consequences, are the subject of a provocative new documentary unveiled today by the online series Retro Report, in collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder is featured prominently in the 12-minute piece, which looks back at the roots of zero-tolerance policies in the 1980s — policies that gave rise to the presence of cops in school. Touted as critical to fending off school shootings, drug dealers and general disorder, zero-tolerance practices morphed over time into a blizzard of student suspensions and arrests for minor indiscretions, many of them involving manhandling of kids by over-aggressive cops. Now some are wondering whether the zero-tolerance ‘solution’ is turning out to be worse than the problem it was designed to address.
Retro Report is a nonprofit documentary project that looks back at a major news event or hot controversy through the lens of history, examining how legislative actions or societal reactions played out after the headlines faded. The school-policing documentary is posted on both the Retro Report website and The New York Times website, which carries Retro Report pieces and produces written stories that accompany the documentaries. We’ve linked to the documentary here as well.