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Black And Latino Students Say They See Harsh Treatment From School Officers, Who Are Growing In Number

The increase in police presence at schools over the last two decades — partially in response to mass shootings — has brought street-level law enforcement into classrooms, leading cops to deploy tactics used to fight street crime on students.

Video footage of a white school resource officer slamming a black high school girl to the ground and tossing her across her Columbia, South Carolina, classroom has brought national attention to the use of police in schools — the latest alleged excessive force incident involving police and a reflection of the ongoing concern that black and Latino students receive disproportionately harsh punishments.

Within the last half decade, students, parents, and civil rights organizations have protested and filed lawsuits against officers working in schools in Alabama, California, Maryland, Kentucky, Utah, Florida, and elsewhere. The attention comes as local, state, and federal governments have increased funding for school law enforcement in response to recent school shootings. The result has been a growing number of officers who are trained to handle criminals — but assigned to help discipline middle school and high school students.