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Queens South ranked No. 2 in pupil arrests

NYPD school safety officers in Patrol Borough Queens South ranked second in the city last year for school arrests.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The NYPD’s Queens South patrol borough ranked second in the city, behind the Bronx, in the number of students arrested at public schools during the first three months of 2012, according to an NYPD report released last week by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

There were 54 arrests made in the patrol in the beginning of the year, compared with 108 in the Bronx and 13 in Queens North, according to the report.

The city has eight patrol boroughs, and Queens South covers Kew Gardens Hill, Pomonok, Utopia and Fresh Meadows in addition to the remainder of the borough south of the Jackie Robinson and Grand Central parkways.

With the release of the numbers, the NYCLU called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to reform the school-safety policies the group says disproportionately affects young black and Latino males.

Of the 327 arrests made throughout the city during the 58-day period, 64 percent involved black students, who make up 31 percent of the city’s student population, according to the civil rights group’s analysis.

“These data show how the impact of heavy-handed policing in city schools falls mostly on black students, who account for 64 percent of the arrests, and on male students, who represent about three-quarters of all arrests,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “If the Bloomberg administration truly wants to help young men of color succeed, then it must address these disparities and focus more resources on educating children, not arresting them.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The NYCLU has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city that seeks reforms such as returning disciplinary decisions to school administrators rather than the NYPD.

In 2010, the City Council unanimously passed the Student Safety Act, which required the NYPD to submit quarterly reports on the numbers of arrests and summonses issued in schools. There were 61 summonses issued in Queens South during the reporting period, nearly 74 percent of which where for disorderly conduct.

“The high percentage of disorderly conduct charges — a catch-all category that could encompass all kinds of typical misbehavior — indicates that NYPD officers are getting involved in non-criminal disciplinary incidents,” NYCLU Advocacy Director Udi Ofer said. “We call on the Bloomberg administration to commission an independent audit of these incidents of arrests and summonses to assess whether these situations would be better handled by educators.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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