Is the US Department of Education still using SWAT teams? That’s a question that has been on the minds of parents and students for years. The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) runs a semi-independent investigation office and can send SWAT-style agents into your home. Those agents have guns and they have an anonymous tip line to report illegal behavior.
The problem: School resource officers are not trained in dealing with students with disabilities. The number of referrals made by school police officers to law enforcement agencies was low in Mobile County, Alabama. However, nearly seventy percent of the referrals were made by black students, who make up only a third of the school population. Since then, dozens of school districts have cut their policing budgets or ended their contracts with local law enforcement agencies. Despite this, the Los Angeles school district and Portland, Oregon school systems are cutting their SWAT budgets by almost a third, according to The New York Times.
Although SROs were first used in Flint, Michigan in the early 1950s, they are now a common sight in school buildings. In fact, in many states, there are two to three times more police officers than social workers. In addition, armed guardians must undergo training before being assigned to a school. While SROs are an integral part of the SRO network, they divert funding away from other education areas.