COLLINGSWOOD, NEW JERSEY — The degree to which American police have been in and out of schools to investigate the most minor of incidents is now a punch line. The latest crime in need of police attention? A supposedly racist remark by a 9-year-old concerning a food item.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that during a June 16 class party at William Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, New Jersey, a boy made a comment about the brownies being served.
When a classmate heard the remark and called it racist, the school called the police instead of dealing with the incident internally.
Officers came and talked to the student. They later reported the case to New Jersey child protective services.
Stacy Dos Santos, the boy’s mother, was furious at the school’s overreaction. According to school officials, however, the incident is but one of several cases where police have been called to deal with typically internal issues.
According to the Collingswood Patch, the increased police involvement results from a May 25 directive from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. The directive instructs police and school officials to report any incident that could be potentially criminal, including minor ones like name-calling.
Angry parents started a petition to stop the increased police involvement in Collingswood schools, prompting the mayor and head prosecutor to cite a misunderstanding on the policy terms. Nevertheless, officers say they’re working with the school district to establish a middle ground.