Baltimore City Schools’ Police Officer Arrest Rate Drops 91 Percent

The dramatic drop in student arrests reflects a change in policy at Baltimore City Schools.

Police at Baltimore City Schools arrested 91 percent fewer students this past school year compared to 2008.

The drop, which led to just 85 student arrests in the 2016-2017 school year, comes as district police have stopped arresting students for low level crimes.

“To arrest only 80 something kids, and ten years ago [that number was] 1,000, to me that’s fruitful,” Baltimore City Schools Police Chief Akil Hamm told “We’re not going to arrest all of the children. We’re going to build positive relationships with kids; we’re going to nurture kids.”

City activist Kim Trueheart said the district has also changed its student disciplinary policies in hopes of helping kids cope with the city’s violence.

“These children hear gunfire every night that they lay their head on a pillow, that has an impact,” Trueheart said. “The fact that these children and their family members are the people being shot and killed in this city. They often see it. They deserve to be punished occasionally, but not to the degree that you put them in a jail cell.”

There have been nearly 200 murders in Baltimore this year, and student survey data analyzed by Foxbaltimore indicates that students didn’t feel any safer on campus this past school year than they did ten years ago.

“I don’t want anyone to think we’ve solved the problem,” said Trueheart, who ran an unsuccessful bid for City Council president last year. “Those [arrest] numbers are just too fantastic.”

The Baltimore City Schools Police Department has also seen a 30 percent decrease in sworn police officers over the last three years, the result of recent budget deficits.

The drop in student arrests mimics similar trends we’ve seen around the country as other urban school districts shift their approach in student discipline and attempt to foster a better relationship between children and police.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new student disciplinary policies in 2015, which led to a 32 percent decrease in student suspensions that academic year.

Baltimore City Schools had 44,082 students enrolled in pre-k to grade 5, 16,891 students enrolled in grades 6 to 8 and 21,381 students in grades 9 to 12.

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