ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The Albuquerque Public Schools district is getting national attention for its cops on campus in an article that highlights a debate on when school policing goes to far.
FOX News recently published an Associated Press story that highlights arrests made in a handful of school districts including APS.
According to the AP, in 2009 and 2010 more than 900 APS students were referred to the criminal justice system. It states of those around 500 were handcuffed and sent to the juvenile detention, and about 200 were for minor, nonviolent misdemeanors.
The 200 listed became the basis for a lawsuit filed against the Albuquerque Police Department by Attorney Shannon Kennedy.
"What Albuquerque has done to its public school kids by handcuffing them is outrageous," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the complaints came from parents. She said some of the kids listed in the suit were arrested for minor offenses like talking in class, talking back to authorities or having cell phones.
"My understanding is that the teacher would ask for assistance and the officer would respond to that call," Kennedy said. "Now many of these teachers did not know that that would result in the arrest of that child."
Kennedy said the complaints hit every grade level from elementary to high school.
However, since the suit was filed Kennedy said fewer kids are ending up handcuffs.
"As a result we've seen a 53 percent drop in the number of children detained by officers in public schools," Kennedy said.
A few months ago a resolution was reached with Albuquerque police. Every officer signed an agreement not to arrest students for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses.
However, other similar cases have surfaced involving APS officers or Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies.
Two more cases Kennedy is pursuing happened in 2011. One involved the arrest of a Harrison Middle School student for having a cell phone on campus.
The second case named an APS resource officer who put handcuffs on a 7-year-old who became disruptive in class. He has been diagnosed with autism.
APS would not comment directly about the article or the number of arrests cited. A spokesperson said it's a complex issue with many pieces, and APS will continue to look at ways to make schools safe and provide the best services for all students.
Kennedy said she is moving forward with the suit against APS and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department in hopes of reaching a resolution like that with APD.
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