Many students attend classes at schools that have police officers on campus (often referred to as school law enforcement officers). As this is the new norm in today’s schools, it’s a good idea to determine now what your family’s policy is regarding interacting with campus police. To do so, teens and parents should discuss how they want common situations handled in connection to both school law enforcement officers and school administration before the situation arises.
Tips on Interacting Appropriately with School Law Enforcement Officers and School Administration:
1. Always treat school law enforcement officers and school administration with the utmost respect, but this is particularly important if you are involved in an investigation. (Remember – you’ll get further with honey than vinegar).
2. Teens who are being questioned about illegal activity should not make any statement (verbal or written) without an attorney or, at the very least, their parents present.
3. Teens in this type of situation should request parent notification prior to answering any questions.
4. The same advice applies if school law enforcement officers or school administration request a search.
5. As it can be tricky to refuse to provide a statement and/or agree to a search upon request while showing appropriate levels of respect to those in positions of authority, it is recommended that teens and parents work together before these issues ever come up to determine a canned response. Having a prepared response will enable teens to respond appropriately without exacerbating what may already be a difficult situation.
6. For instance, an appropriate response to a request from a school law enforcement officer or school administrator to provide a statement regarding illegal activity on campus would be, “I really need to notify my parents of this situation before we do anything else.”
7. For instance, an appropriate response to a request from a school law enforcement officer or school administration to a search would be, “I’m not in agreement with any searches.”
8. At the same time, teens should NOT interfere with someone who is performing a search. It just needs to be made abundantly clear (verbally) that they are not in agreement with the search being conducted.
9. Remember that in these situations, you should not become physical with school law enforcement officers or school administration.
10. Always speak calmly, but clearly.
Using these general guidelines can make a big difference in the end result of any trouble that occurs on campus. But it is best to contact an experienced attorney in order to determine the right course of action in any specific situation. If you find yourself dealing with trouble on campus, please get in touch as soon as possible.