Should MCPS station police in Blair?

May 23, 2002, midnight | By Shannon Sanders | 17 years, 8 months ago

Shannon Sanders says NO: Police create a mob mentality

Most Blair students already have more than their share of problems maneuvering in such a densely populated building day after day. For all the distractions and obstacles present in the halls, it is hard enough to be punctual and prepared for at least four classes daily. No Blazer wants to be late to English class because he or she was forced to assume the position next to a vending machine after lunch. Though that may, hopefully, be an exaggeration, the fact remains that police at Blair, in addition to being unnecessary, would inevitably be a detriment to the constructive school environment.

Police presence within Blair would work against the feeling of community and mutual responsibility that the faculty wishes to promote. In an informal Silver Chips survey of 100 Blazers conducted on May 2, 84 percent said that the frequent appearance of police officers at Blair would make them feel distrusted and intimidated. Not a single one felt that police officers would be a necessary addition to Blair's existing security force. Students report feeling overly inhibited when in close proximity to police outside of school; there is no reason why they will not react similarly when placed in the same situation during the school day.

Furthermore, the duties police officers would undertake, such as planning procedures for emergency drills and facilitating evacuations, are already being executed successfully by Blair's existing security staff and safety committee. Additionally, the student body's ability to execute drill procedures efficiently under the direction of Blair's security guards is frequently commended by the administration.

The presence of police officers to facilitate these drills might, in fact, elicit overreaction from students. In cases of actual emergency, the sight of police officers might cause students to panic, impeding an evacuation.

Police officers working to regulate activity at Blair might also, perhaps inadvertently, racially profile students. Currently, racial and gender profiling is in play within the broader community. According to a 2000 Washington Post article, black motorists account for an estimated 21 percent of traffic tickets issued by the county's police department, despite the fact that only about 12 percent of the county's population is black. Placing police officers at Blair could subject minority students to the same unfair treatment.

While the implementation of regular police beats might not be as intrusive as constant police surveillance of county schools, the former may turn out simply to be a stepping stone to the latter. Depending upon the program's success at Blair, county officials may revise it to more closely resemble the more invasive ones unfortunately in existence in nearby counties.

Intimidation, racial profiling and police are all characteristics of a common riot. But Montgomery Blair High School is not an angry mob; there is no need to treat it as one.

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Shannon Sanders. Shannon is stumbling through life as a Magnet senior. She's an aspiring obstetrician, who hopes to live in NYC and somehow blend seamlessly into the masses of chicness after graduating from Columbia University. She's a sort-of member of Blair's Model UN club, takes dance lessons, ... More »

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