Racial Disparity Seen In Use Of Handcuffs In Schools, NYCLU Study Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City law requires the NYPD to report when kids are handcuffed in schools.

And as WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, civil rights advocates have been looking over school safety data, and said they have found some troubling trends along racial lines.

The racial divide is especially stunning in cases where handcuffs were used to restrain a student in emotional distress. In 99 percent of those cases in 2016, the students were black and Latino.

“This is something that has got to change,” said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Lieberman said most of the arrest in schools are made by precinct officers, and not officers from the School Safety Division. The NYCLU said arrests by school safety officers are down – but only 11.5 percent of arrests were made by those officers while 88.5 percent are made by precinct officers.

The NYCLU study also indicated that more than 25 percent or the arrests were connected to incidents that happened off school grounds.

“There is no excuse for the NYPD barging into our schools and using our schools as a hunting ground to pick up children who believe to be involved in illegal activity outside of school,” Lieberman said.

Under the Student Safety Act passed in 2015, the NYPD is required to report data on arrests by all officers in schools and the use of handcuffs.

The NYPD released a statement saying arrests are down 55 percent over the past five school years, and summonses by the NYPD are down 81 percent for the same period.

“Restraints are only used in rare circumstances—and in nearly 90 percent of the cases of helping a child in crisis or dealing with a serious emotional issue no restraint was used,” the NYPD said in a statement.

Department of Education spokeswoman Toya Holness added in a statement: “Crime in schools is at an all-time low and we’re encouraged by the continued decrease in number of suspensions, school-based arrests and summonses. Nothing is more important than the safety of students and staff and we’re continuing to invest in and expand critical school climate and mental health initiatives.”

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