A viral video of a South Carolina school resource officer slamming a student to the floor of a classroom is focusing new attention on the increasing presence of police officers in schools. Richland County, S.C., Sheriff Leon Lott said the force Senior Deputy Ben Fields used to arrest a student who was disrupting a class Monday at Spring Valley High School on Monday was “not based on training or acceptable,” reports USA Today. The U.S. Justice Department started a civil rights investigation into the incident.
Communities nationwide have boosted the presence of police on school campuses, even as crime rates have dropped precipitously in schools. The National Center for Education Statistics says this year that the number of crimes against students has plummeted more than 80 percent since 1992. Yet DOJ says 43 percent of public schools reported the presence of one or more security guards or law enforcement officers in the 2009-2010 school year. Civil rights groups have long complained that cops in schools make safety worse for many children, increasing the likelihood that students will end up severely disciplined for minor infractions and in trouble with the law.