Almost All Students Handcuffed in New York Public Schools are Black or Latinx


Black and Latinx students are severely more likely to be handcuffed by police officers in New York Public Schools.

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In fact, according to a report from the New York Civil Liberties Union, 99 perecent of the students placed in handcuffs in 2016 were Black or Latinx. To break that down further, 262 young people were shackled while on campus last year, and only three of those incidents involved white students.

With Black and brown students making up two-thirds of the city’s more than 1 million public school students, the percentage of them who have been restrained is clearly disproportionate.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman noted that this behavior from police officers has a major impact on young people’s academic and emotional well-being.

“When a child is handcuffed, the child is humiliated,” Lieberman told the New York Daily News. “It’s incompatible with the safe and supportive learning environment a school is supposed to provide.”

She also added that this use of police force “is neither necessary nor effective to keep children and staff safe.”

And young people know it. In 2016, there were 208 complaints made against school safety officers ― 89 for use of force, 15 for abuse of authority, 17 for offensive language and 87 for discourtesy.

The NYCLU is recommending that the city starts to limit the role police officers play in school discipline and “operate in a manner consistent with the best interests of children.”

“Police officers should never handcuff students who don’t pose an immediate safety threat,” NYCLU Advocacy Director Johanna Miller said in the report. “And the NYPD should not treat schools as places to hunt for students they believe committed a crime off of school grounds. Students should never be afraid to go to school.”

In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would allocate $47 million annually for “restorative trainings, mental-health programs, and social-emotional supports” in public schools.

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But with continued police presence and use of metal detectors, the school-to-prison pipeline is alive and kicking – with Black and Latinx students harmed the most.