Amid the celebrations for the re-opening of DC’s renovated Cardozo High School comes some cautionary news. The District of Columbia Police Department is pulling its dedicated police from High Schools.
Cardozo used to have two cops permanently assigned to protect kids from violence. Now it has zero, according to reporter Emma Brown at the Washington Post.
Starting this year, Cardozo will have to call 911 like everyone else, and hope that the cops get there before some child is seriously hurt. Why the change?
MPD says it doesn’t have enough cops to cover violence at all DC Schools, and Cardozo will have to share its cops with middle schools, which have growing violence issues too. Is there any way to find more cops so that every DC school kid is protected? While we are not protecting kids at school, we are arresting them in record numbers after school.
DC leads the nation in per capita arrests for small amounts of marijuana. Each marijuana arrest takes cops off the beat to arrest, transport, book, fingerprint, photograph and paper almost 6,000 small marijuana cases per year. Decriminalization of marijuana would end that drain of police resources. Instead of arrest and prosecution, adults would be fined for possession of pot. For juveniles, their parents would be notified and they would have to attend a drug education class.
Decriminalization would also save thousands of police hours. Time spent on small marijuana cases could be used protecting kids from violence. Chicago’s police chief calculated that decriminalization saved his force 22,000 police working hours – the difference between issuing a citation and making an arrest.
If we want to help kids, we need schools that are safe. Cardozo teachers told the Washington Post they are “concerned about how they will deter and deal with serious altercations this year” without their dedicated cops.
But we can’t do everything. Do we want safe schools, where children are protected from violence, or more pot arrests, so we can send a message to these kids about the dangers of weed. The real danger to kids is school violence, and that is where we need our cops the most.