The February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martion might never have happened if school officials in Miami-Dade County had not instituted an unofficial policy of treating crimes as school disciplinary infractions. Revelations that emerged from an internal affairs investigation explain why Martin was not arrested when caught at school with stolen jewerly in October 2011 or with marijuana in February 2012. Instead, the teenager was suspended from school, the last time just days before he was shot dead by George Zimmerman.
Trayvon Martin was not from Sanford, the town north of Orlando where he was shot in 2012 and where a jury acquitted Zimmerman of murder charges Saturday. Martin was from Miami Gardens, more than 200 miles away, and had come to Sanford to stay with his father’s girlfriend Brandy Green at her home in the townhouse community where Zimmerman was in charge of the neighborhood watch. Trayvon was staying with Green after he had been suspended for the second time in six months from Krop High School in Miami-Dade County, where both his father, Tracy Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, lived.
Both of Trayvon’s suspensions during his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his prosecution as a juvenile offender. However, Chief Charles Hurley of the Miami-Dade School Police Department (MDSPD) in 2010 had implemented a policy that reduced the number of criiminal reports, manipulating statistics to create the appearance of a reduction in crime within the school system. Less than two weeks before Martin’s death, the school system commended Chief Hurley for “decreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011.” What was actually happening was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as disciplinary infractions.