Police Should Be Unarmed at CRLS Football Games

Zareen Brown, Contributing Writer

Football games at CRLS are a long-held tradition for the student body to express their school spirit and support for athletes. Sitting for two hours bundled up in blankets and eating fruit snacks is what bonds the freshmen to the upperclassmen, the athletes to the spectators, and the coaches to their players. Despite this traditionally being a time for students and athletes to enjoy themselves after a long week of school, Cambridge has witnessed a new addition to the audience: police officers. 

High school football games aren’t typically associated with handcuffs and firearms. Yet, due to the recent robbery and stabbing of a Cambridge resident outside of Russell Field, athletes and administration alike believe that police presence may be necessary. Players and spectators have reported a constant, looming presence of police cars at games in the weeks following the event. In light of the violence, it would be reasonable to assume a need for increased police activity in the area, especially with the large gatherings of students. Still, it would be remiss to ignore that many people do not feel safer in the presence of the police. 

“Is the constant presence of the police insinuating that they expect a brawl to break out?”

No administration wants their players or their fans to be the target of violence, but we should consider the possibility of the police making the problem worse as well. The idea of armed police officers in a field full of children and their parents is also cause for concern. Football team Captain Will Kaufmann ’22 echoes this, asking “Is the constant presence of the police insinuating that they expect a brawl to break out?”. Moreover, in the case that a fight does occur, what is the police’s plan? History has shown that when it comes to de-escalation of a conflict, the police are not always helpful, and may even add to the problem. We saw this with the shooting of Walter Wallace during a mental health crisis in Philadelphia, the killing of Rudolph Keitt Jr. in the midst of a seizure, also in Philadelphia, and Ricardo Muñoz who suffered a schizophrenic episode and was killed by police in Lancaster. 

In a perfect world, law enforcement does not harbor bias and can be trusted by spectators and players of all backgrounds—including traditionally-targeted students of color. In that world, a police presence at a high school football game would not seem out of the question due to recent violence. The officers could de-escalate the conflict and escort players and students to safety. Yet our world isn’t perfect, and the threat of an armed policeman could potentially increase tension during games instead. For future games, police present should be unarmed. This measure at the very least could alleviate the anxiety of the student body. The administration at CRLS should ensure that the police protecting their student-athletes and their fans are not going to exacerbate the problem of violence at games.

This piece also appears in our November 2021 print edition.