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Letter: Are students safer with school police force?

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

To the editor:

A Center Grove student was arrested by school police for falsely confessing to a bomb threat, detained in the Juvenile Detention Center, not informed of his/her rights and not allowed to have a parent present (May 15, “Wrong student arrested in bomb threat”). Scary to imagine as an adult. What must it have been like for a teenager and the parents?

Let me state that I have never been on the bandwagon for schools having their own police departments. Taxpayers already pay for police/sheriff departments. When services are needed, call on the professionals. Show me the evidence that school police departments decrease crime and violent threats at school.

You would need police in each entrance, hallway, classroom and bus. Having your own police may give you a warm, fuzzy, safe and comfortable feeling, but are the students safer? But it does give the appearance that the school is more concerned about their students than other schools and puts the school in an elitist position.

It appears that some school administrators don’t know the rules or the proper procedures. According to one administrator, “I can assure you the Center Grove Police Department and Center Grove High School administrators followed all applicable law, policies and procedures during the investigation of this case.”

Apparently the prosecutor and legal system believe otherwise; an investigation must be done properly, rights given and parents present before arresting, detaining and prosecuting a student.

And now an investigation “conducted improperly” and “botched” opens up possible lawsuits and settlements — to be paid for by the administrators and school police — or the taxpayers?

School police work for the school, and in this case the police arrested a student because the administrator gave the orders. Do what the boss says even if wrong? Why didn’t the school police inform the administrator of the proper procedures? Improperly arrested and detained because a school administrator gave the orders to do so and the police did. I would rather take my chances with a public police/sheriff officer whom hopefully will properly investigate and tell me my rights.

Questions: Are students at a greater risk of being improperly arrested if the school has its own police department? Do you feel welcomed or scared on school property where police arrest when the administration gives an order? Do you enjoy paying twice for police protection for our students? Are students any safer when schools provide their own police force? Are you willing to pay for potential and unnecessary lawsuit settlements? Will we ever really know the full details of this matter?

Dr. Dick Huber


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