Pha. To Put Some Officers In Schools Based On Tips


The Philadelphia Police Department will activate a round-the-clock school-violence hotline on Monday and will send armed plainclothes officers into schools based on phone tips about trouble among students, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The move comes amid community pressure over a wave of school-related assaults and shootings, and a rift between the schools chief and city administration over safety strategies. A city plan called Operation Safe Schools will be unveiled Monday. Johnson said the Police Department’s Intelligence Unit would monitor the hotline. “We have to be intelligence-driven,” Johnson said. “We don’t have that now.”

Mayor John Street said he would consider sending undercover officers into schools to gather information. The mayor and Johnson remain opposed to posting armed, uniformed officers at schools, as district CEO Paul Vallas has requested. Street called it “an invitation to disaster.” Johnson said each high school has a uniformed officer assigned to patrol the campus during school hours. “We’re already out there,” he said. “I’ve given them more resources than they’ve ever had.” Based on tips on the new hotline, officers would go to schools and to students’ homes to try to prevent feuds from escalating into bloodshed. Many large urban districts have responded to violence by having armed police officers patrol hallways. “The trends are toward armed, uniformed officers – nationwide,” said Ronald Stephens of the National School Safety Center, near Los Angeles. “That is the new normal, like it or not.”


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