Pasadena School District Reduces Police Presence on Campus
Pasadena officials have agreed to handle all but the most serious offenses with school-based disciplinary actions rather than citations and arrests. Police officers will intervene only in cases involving assault, weapons, narcotics sales and other major offenses that state law requires them to handle.
The agreement, unanimously approved last week by the Pasadena City Council, involves crafting new guidelines to limit the role of police on campus, as directed in a "school climate bill of rights" passed by the board of education in May and supported by the school police union.
District officials are working with community groups on a possible pilot program to replace citations and arrests for battery and disturbing the peace with community-based alternatives.
Public Counsel, a Los Angeles pro bono law firm, is also working with the San Francisco and Oakland school districts to forge new campus policing practices, while similar efforts are underway nationally.
In Pasadena, the new agreement directs police to focus on building ties with students, resolving conflicts and creating a safe environment.
It was not prompted by lawsuits or widespread complaints but by an opportunity to improve an existing agreement up for renewal for the city to provide police services to the district, said Eric Sahakian, a district director of child welfare, attendance and safety.
Police reportedly make about five arrests a month in the district of 17,700 students in 26 schools.
Under the plan, officials respond to student misbehavior with a graduated series of actions that include incentives, specific classroom management techniques, mentoring and training on how to change behavior.