Forum: Pepper spray and the Boston School Police
BPS invites families to join a conversation:
Pepper spray and the Boston School Police
The Boston Public Schools is considering the development of a policy to add another layer of security to help protect students and staff. This would involve training School Police Officers in the use of OC spray, also known as pepper spray, and equipping officers with this tool.
The intent to develop an OC/pepper spray policy has been in the police officers’ contract for several years. Officers do not currently carry it because we would need to develop clear guidelines around training and use protocols first. BPS wants to know what students, families and staff think before developing a draft policy. This would then be brought before the Boston School Committee later this school year for consideration.
We will begin discussions with four community sessions led by the BPS Chief of Student Support Services and Boston School Police:
- Monday, October 27, 6 PM – 8 PM at English High School Auditorium, 144 McBride St., Jamaica Plain
- Wednesday, October 29, 6 PM – 8 PM at TechBoston Academy Auditorium, 9 Peacevale Rd., Dorchester
- Thursday, November 6, 6 PM – 8 PM at Hyde Park Education Complex Auditorium, 655 Metropolitan Ave.
- Thursday, November 13, 6 PM – 8 PM at West Roxbury Education Complex Auditorium, 1205 VFW Parkway
This will be just the beginning of the conversation. We will use feedback from these meetings to inform working group discussions with parents, students, staff and safety experts as we explore the issue more deeply prior to bringing any policy recommendations to the Boston School Committee.
In many other school districts police officers who serve in schools already carry pepper spray, including Braintree, Brockton, Brookline, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Worcester.
The number of in-school arrests has dropped from 464 in the 2007-2008 school year to 152 in the 2013-2014 school year. Last year BPS invested $1.4 million for new security cameras, card readers and other security measures for schools. The District will invest an additional $1 million this year for security upgrades. Last year the District upgraded the Boston School Police radio system to allow them to directly connect to Boston Police dispatch.
Although these upgrades are important, Boston School Police have raised concerns about their ability to fully confront a threat if it ever exists inside a school and have requested that officers be allowed to carry pepper spray after receiving extensive training. We believe that any policies relative to pepper spray must include clear guidelines for training and possible use.
We would like to hear what you think. In addition to joining one of the community meetings listed above, students, parents, staff and community members can send an email to email@example.com. We will keep you posted in the months ahead, and thank you!