Stoneleigh Fellow Kevin Bethel is featured in a Chalkbeat article about a proposal to replicate the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program in Chicago.
As Chicago Public Schools and the police department develop a framework for officers in schools, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office is proposing a diversion program, in which school officers could refer students to a social service agency for support, instead of arresting them.
This week Foxx presented the idea to the school district, the police department, and the city’s department of family services. She hopes that these groups will soon sign an agreement to run the diversion program collaboratively…
Chicago’s program would be modeled on a school arrest diversion program in Philadelphia that officers say decreased student arrests by 71% in its first four years, to 456 arrests, down from 1,580.
Under that program, a police officer responding to a school discipline report could direct a student to a social worker, who would visit their home within 48 hours and check in on the student over the next three months. However, students with a prior criminal conviction could still be arrested and charged.
Kevin Bethel, the former deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department who oversaw school patrols and school security officers, said that social workers were directed explicitly to avoid punitive responses, like removing children from their homes, and instead to consider what services could help students.