Calling the Cops

An EdSource investigation into policing in California schools

Calling the Cops

Policing in California schools

An unprecedented glimpse into policing in California schools

EdSource filed public records requests with hundreds of California public schools to obtain nearly 46,000 incident logs documenting calls to police from and about 852 schools.
Here's what we found and the data we gathered.

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Incidents reported
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Police Departments
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School Districts
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Every school day police respond to thousands of calls from schools across California. Along with the patrols and security checks are thousands of serious incidents, some of them violent. It’s a view of what goes on inside schools that the public rarely gets to hear about because of the state’s strict laws related to disclosing information related to juveniles.

This unprecedented look at school policing comes at a time when some school communities are debating how much and what kind of policing they want and need.

Of nearly 46,000 incidents reported by 164 law enforcement agencies in 57 of 58 counties:
Three out of 10 were serious - reasonably required a police presence.
Of the serious, more than a third involved violence - anything involving a violent act.

incident breakdown chart

violence graphic Three out of 10 police calls involved serious incidents - i.e. reports of fights, assault and battery, sexual incidents, threats, thefts, weapons, drugs, disturbances, mental health crises, overdoses.

weapon graphic More than one percent of police calls - total of 445 - involved the possession of, or use of, weaponsguns, knives, and in two instances, a spear and a bow and arrow.

highlights graphic More than a third of the serious incidents involved violence - i.e. fighting, assault and battery, sex crimes, self-harm, animal attacks and anything involving weapons.

no-details graphic Three out of 10 of all calls were noted by police as patrol with no details.

sex-crimes graphic More than 1 percent of calls - total of 342 - reported sex crimes: 174 incidents of rape, sexual assault, sexual battery or child molestation. Most of the rest involved smartphones to send or threaten to send compromising photos of students, some taken in school bathrooms.

middle-school graphic Middle schools had higher rates of calls on serious incidents than high schools i.e. weapons, violence, and sexual misconduct with 6.6 per 100 students compared to 5.8 per 100 students.

Highest rate of serious incidents: Liberty Middle School, Lemoore; 104 incidents or nearly 12 per 100 students, including 12 fights or assaults and 17 drug-related incidents.

Highest rate of fighting or assaults among schools with over 500 students: Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School, Fresno; nearly 2 per 100 students; second highest rate at nearly 7 per 100 students of violent reports i.e. fights, weapons, sex crimes. Police said their records show that two of the sexual incidents, reported by students, occurred off campus.

Highest rate of sex-related calls among schools with over 500 students: Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School in East Palo Alto; nearly 1 incident per 100 students. In terms of raw count, the school in our sample with the most sexual incidents was Bakersfield High in Kern County. Of the 11 incidents, five were described as students having sex on campus, with no report of non-consent.

Highest rate of police calls: 77 per 100 students: Weed High in Siskiyou County. The violent incidents were an assault, a fight, and obstructing an officer. But most were a wide variety of non-violent matters, such as suspicious people or noise complaints.

Our reporting

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