Call records show vast police presence in California schools


EdSource’s Calling the Cops investigation obtained an unprecedented trove of police call data for 852 school addresses covered by 164 local police, sheriffs and school-district police, which we have made public on our database website. 

An analysis revealed:

  • Nearly a third of all calls involved serious incidents, including reports of fights, assault and battery, sex crimes, threats, thefts, weapons, drugs, disturbances, mental health crises, overdoses, and in one instance a threat by a student to kill a school superintendent. 
  • More than a third of the serious incidents involved violence. Violent acts include fighting, assault and battery, sex crimes, self-harm, animal attacks, and anything involving weapons, among other things.
  • Three out of 10 of all calls were noted by police as patrol logs with no details.
  • More than 1% of police calls — for a total of 445 — involved the possession of, or use of, weapons — guns, knives, and in two instances, a spear and a bow and arrow.
  • More than 1% of calls — a total of 342 — are reported sex crimes, including 174 incidents of rape, sexual assault, sexual battery or child molestation. Most of the rest involve the use of smartphones to send, or threats to send, sexually compromising photographs of students, including some taken in school bathrooms, leading students to sometimes face child-pornography charges.
  • Middle schools in the sampling had higher rates of police calls reporting serious matters such as weapons, violence, and sexual misconduct than high schools, with nearly 7 per 100 students compared to nearly 6 per 100 students.

Highlights of data findings on specific schools:

  • 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 such as 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 at 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.  

Explore the full database of police call logs at callingthecops.edsource.org





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