ACLU Sues NYC School Safety Officers


The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the alleged conduct and behavior of police officers and school safety officers (SSOs) serving in the NYPD’s School Safety Division.

The lawsuit alleges the officers violated students’ civil rights though wrongful arrests and the excessive use of force. The suit represents five middle school and high school students who were allegedly physically abused and wrongfully arrested at school by NYPD personnel.

In addition, the lawsuit maintains that inadequately trained and poorly supervised police personnel engage in aggressive behavior toward students when no criminal activity or threat to health and safety has taken place. According to the ACLU, these arrests occur over minor infractions including talking back, being late for class or having a cell phone in school.

From 2002 to June 2007, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau received 2,670 complaints against members of NYPD’s School Safety Division – about 500 complaints annually. According to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, NYPD receives about 1,200 complaints about SSOs a year.

The lawsuit is seeking the following remedies:

  • A return of disciplinary decisions traditionally dealt with by school administrators to New York City’s school administrators.
  • Mandatory training of SSOs regarding conduct relating to arrests, searches and the use of force. Officers must get training for working in an educational environment and must be taught the difference between the penal code and the disciplinary code when it comes to arresting students.
  • A transparent and meaningful mechanism for students and parents to file complaints against members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division.
  • Revision of the policies and procedures regarding discipline of members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division who are found to have committed abuses, including their removal from having future contact with youth where appropriate.

For additional information, click here.

The above information was obtained through a press release provided by the ACLU.

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