Criminalizing Kids

Published — July 30, 2012 Updated — June 16, 2015 at 9:45 am ET

Public radio talks to L.A. school police chief about court citations that have fallen heavily on young students

Chief says he’s not sure tickets are too numerous, but he’s involved in reforms now underway


In a report aired Monday, Southern California’s KPCC radio interviews the chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s police department — the nation’s largest school police force — and other district officials about controversial police ticketing at schools.

KPCC has collaborated with the Center for Public Integrity on recent stories highlighting the police department’s citations of students, including thousands of mostly black and Latino middle-school kids ordered to court because of fighting, tardiness and other minor offenses. In Monday’s story, reporter Vanessa Romo talks to Los Angeles Unified School Police Chief Steven Zipperman about his views and plans for reforms.

Zipperman, who also spoke to the Center recently, told KPCC his department didn’t have the capacity to look to trends by analyzing its own citation data by age, ethnicity, gender, school location and infraction. But the Center for Public Integrity was able to analyze three years’ worth of tickets to students, KPPC said, and “its research has forced a dramatic rethinking of school police ticketing this summer.” Romo also interviewed Russlynn Ali, the U.S. Department of Education’s top civil rights official, who explains her concerns about school discipline policies and policing.

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