“Kids have to recognize their authority when they’re being questioned and how to conduct themselves.”
A new bill would force schools to teach students how they should interact with police officers. Under the proposed legislation, Bill A4130, part of the Social Studies curriculum for New Jersey schools would include a requirement to learn “instructions” for students to speak to police in the ways the State deemed “appropriate.”
The Social Studies Core Curriculum Content Standards would include “the role and responsibilities of a law enforcement official in providing for public safety” and “an individual’s responsibilities to comply with a directive from a law enforcement official.”
One of the bill’s sponsor says this could protect both kids and cops alike.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), explained that the bill was, in part, inspired by the rash of police shootings across the country. Rather than proposing a bill that would require higher standards for police behavior, Caputo and other sponsors believe that our children are to blame and just need reeducated as to how they should speak to police.
“Kids have to learn how to behave when they’re being investigated or talked to, because they could put themselves in jeopardy,” Caputo explained his position.
“It’s also a good effort to protect the police,” Caputo continued. “Kids have to recognize their authority when they’re being questioned and how to conduct themselves.”
Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Essex), also co-sponsored the bill. She said that it’s all about teaching that will help “break down any misconceptions that children might have from either misinformation or just the wrong portrayal of police officers through media.”
Once again, the onus is put on the unarmed children, rather than on the armed men and women patrolling, initiating contact with teenagers and others. Is this anything other than victim-blaming?
The bill says that the curriculum would be required from elementary through high school, and must be characterized by “mutual cooperation and respect.”
Ari Rosmarin, the public policy director for the New Jersey ACLU, disagreed with these politicians, saying that the bill misses the point and lacks a critical component.
“The bill calls for education on young peoples’ roles and responsibilities, but it’s missing the third R: rights. The classroom is the appropriate place for a know-your-rights education,” Rosmarin explained.
“Recent events make a strong case for New Jersey’s young people being made aware of their rights and how to protect them when interacting with the police.”
Rosmarin added that “we hope to see officers receive equally robust training about interacting with young people in New Jersey’s community.”