Police Release Quarterly Report on School Arrests

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Nearly half of the students arrested inside New York City schools in July through September were under the age of 16, according to a report on school arrests by the New York City Police Department that was released Monday.

The new data covers arrests and summonses issued to students by members of the Police Department's school safety division from July 1 to Sept. 30, a time span that includes summer school and the first few weeks of regular classes. During that period, school safety agents and officers arrested 63 students, ages 12 to over 20, and issued 182 summonses.

This is the first time the Police Department has complied with the Student Safety Act, a law passed by the City Council last year that requires the Police Department and Department of Education to issue quarterly reports on student arrests, summonses and suspensions.

The Council passed the law after expressing concerns that police officers were moving too aggressively to arrest students.

The Police Department released the figures without commenting on them to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which then released them to reporters.

Though black students make up roughly a third of the student body in city schools, they represent 68 percent of students who were arrested, the figures show. The Police Department does not collect racial data on summonses. For both arrests and summonses, the vast majority of students who received them were male.

In the Bronx and Brooklyn, where the largest share of the arrests took place, about half were made for assault. Five students were arrested for bringing weapons to school, and two were arrested for robbery.

Some of the reasons listed for arresting students are difficult to understand in the context of a school. For example, citywide, six students were arrested for "obstructing governmental administration."

Summonses, which are less severe but require students to appear in court, were given for violations like disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that because the period covered by the data includes only 40 to 50 school days, depending on the type of school, the number of arrests and summonses "raises serious concerns."

"We don’t have any comparative period against which to evaluate this," she said. "But I think that looking at the disproportionate impact of the summonses and arrests on black males, we have to think about it in the context of the mayor’s expressed concern about the future of and the problems facing young men of color."