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Police & You: Police Tactics in Schools

Police & You: The recent events in a Richland County, South Carolina high school where a uniformed law enforcement officer forcibly removed a student from her desk and placed her in handcuffs should serve as a vivid reminder to parents and students alike that whether you agree with the officer's tactics or not, uniformed law enforcement officers are routinely in America's schools and are undoubtedly not going anywhere.

Whether you agree with armed police officers in schools, or think teachers, administrators, or other adults should be able to carry firearms to prevent mass school shootings, chances are that you have at least considered these important issues.

An equally important issue, and one that most parents and students fail to consider, is the fact that law enforcement officers and administrators at all levels, from early elementary school to high school, routinely question students without parental permission or even notification. In addition, students are never advised that they have a right not to answer questions.

In my own Detroit criminal defense practice, I see this happen regularly. A favorite tactic is for administrators to summon a student to their office. When the student arrives the student encounters not only the administrator, but also an often unidentified observer. Typically, that observer turns out to be a detective from the local police department. Then, under the guise of an internal school investigation, the administrator elicits statements from the student that end up being used against the student in a subsequent criminal prosecution. All of this happens without parental knowledge or consent. Simply put, this is an end run around the United States Constitution - and it is essentially legal.

Consequently, it is vital for parents and students alike to not only know this happens regularly, but to also discuss what to do in the unfortunate event an administrator wants to question a student. Parents should clearly instruct their student to assert their right to remain silent and their right to leave the office immediately. If the student is not permitted to leave, they should politely and respectfully comply. However, they should continue to remain silent.

Following such an interaction with administrators, students and parents should immediately consult with a Troy, MI criminal defense attorney who can provide advice and insight into the best way to handle the police & you, including school disciplinary proceedings and possible criminal charges, including vandalism, theft, sexting, criminal sexual conduct, destruction of property, minor in possession of alcohol, and other Michigan felony and misdemeanor charges.

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