Police Misconduct | School Safety Officers


In 1998 the New York City Police Department assumed direct responsibility for safety in the New York City public school system. While there are some police officers assigned to schools, the overwhelming number of Police Department personnel assigned to the public schools, for the purpose of maintaining a safe environment, are civilian employees of the Police Department known as “School Safety Officers.” School safety officers have the authority to stop and frisk students as well as question, search and even arrest students. Of singular note is that school administrators have no authority at all over the school safety officers in their school !

School safety officers receive 14 weeks of training before they are sent to their school assignment. A NYC police officer goes through a six month training course. Is it any wonder that the actions of many school safety officers often defy reason. It was the persistent and blatant disregard for the appropriate guidelines, leading to unlawful arrests and other abusive activity, that prompted the American Civil Liberties Union, together with the NY Civil Liberties Union, to bring a federal civil action calling for a drastic change in procedures. The ACLU stated that “Despite mounting evidence of systemic misconduct by police personnel in the schools, the NYPD refuses to even acknowledge any problems with its school policing practices.”

School Safety Officers have routinely broken school policing rules, used unwarranted excessive force, and have violated other school safety regulations and procedures.

According to the New York Daily News (January 21, 2010, page 26) the City of New York averaged 500 complaints against school safety personnel between the years 2002 to 2007. In 2008 that number jumped, according to the News, to 1159.School based personnel are subject to virtually the same rules, regulations and laws as would any other police personnel on the street, in dealing with the public. In fact, the population with which school safety personnel are dealing is entitled to extra consideration, not less, because they are, invariably, minors. Any act or behavior on the part of school safety personnel that deviates from acceptable norms and standards is, and should be, the subject not only of disciplinary action within the police department, but the party harmed should seriously consider a civil lawsuit for actions that are truly outrageous and unacceptable.

If contemplating a lawsuit, the injured party should not only seek a competent Personal Injury Attorney, but look specifically for one well versed in the area of police misconduct and abuse, including cases involving excessive force and false arrest.

Federal class-action lawsuit charges school safety officers subjected kids to ‘excessive force’

Read an article from the New York Daily News titled ” Federal class-action lawsuit charges school safety officers subjected kids to ‘excessive force”‘ by CLICKING HERE


Police Brutality & Excessive Force

What, exactly, is “police brutality”?  When can you bring a lawsuit for “police brutality”?

It is often the case that when a person is arrested police officers use varying amounts of physical force to restrain the person arrested.  Guidelines issued to virtually all police allow different amounts of force under different situations.  Generally speaking, an arrest should be accomplished without harm, if possible, to the person arrested.  If, however, there is a “reasonable” belief that the person to be arrested is about to harm the police officer making or assisting in the arrest, or harm some bystander, or may even cause serious injury to himself, then the officer or officers can use an “appropriate” amount of force to avoid or mitigate such an outcome.

Any force used in excess of that amount of force deemed “reasonable” under the particular circumstances of a situation is called “excessive force”.  “Excessive Force” can be the basis of a lawsuit.

It is very important to realize that a person may have a valid lawsuit for “Excessive Force” even though the arrest was perfectly legal.  The issue of whether a “false arrest” was involved is a separate issue entirely!  The issue of whether there was “excessive force” used by a police officer can be considered whether or not the arrest itself is later determined to be legal.  Likewise, even if excessive force was used, that does not make an otherwise legal arrest illegal.

And who decides whether the force used in an arrest was reasonable or not, and therefore “excessive” or not?  Ultimately it is the “finder of fact” – either judge or jury, depending on the circumstances.   Often, with the availability of witnesses, or nowadays, videos, or just through the severity of the injury sustained by the person arrested, the answer as to “reasonableness” becomes clear.

This is certainly an area that requires an attorney with extensive “Police Misconduct” experience since the line between “reasonable” and “excessive” force can be a very fine distinction.