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Baltimore City School Board Adds New Policy For Officer-Student Interactions

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City Public Schools now have new written policies that dictate how school police interact with students.

Acting out in schools may land fewer students in trouble with the law.

The Baltimore City School Board is moving to implement new policies where school police officers would be required to try and avoid any disciplinary actions that would give students a criminal record.

Instead, officers will focus on de-escalating tense situations and then referring students to resources like counseling.

Baltimore City Schools Police Chief Akil Hamm says that tactic is already working.

The school board has been working on the policy for years. One of the major provisions would have been to read students a modified version of the Miranda rights so it would be easier for them understand, but that move failed.

"The standard Miranda is not geared toward students, who we know are age and developmentally different from adults," said Amanda White with Disability Rights Maryland.

Baltimore City schools have fought to curb violence within its halls, and at least three times in the last school year officers have taken guns from students avoiding a tragedy.

The union supported part of the board's decision Tuesday night but had one objection.

"The officers that are charged with the responsibility of carrying out this mission should have been involved in this process throughout," said School Police Union Chief Sgt. Clyde Boatwright.

Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of schools, says this new policy will protect students from being unjustly pushed into the criminal justice system.

"Students should be able to see that in the policy, in terms of clarity around what their rights are, clarity around where school police action is warranted and where it isn't," Santelises said.

These new changes on how school police officers should interact with students go into effect immediately. The board chair reiterated changes will be made if necessary.

The decision to approve this new policy was unanimous, following a nine to zero vote.

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