By Teresa Watanabe
Just before 8 a.m. at Peary Middle School in Gardena, a boy was refusing to leave his mother’s car. The school police officer on duty could have barked orders at him to get to class. He could have written him up for truancy. He could have forcibly moved him — as a South Carolina police officer did to a student last month, sparking a national uproar.
But Los Angeles Unified School Police Officer Henry Anderson did none of that. Instead, he tried to cajole the boy with friendly persuasion and ever-so-subtle appeals to guilt.
“What’s up, man?” the lean and lanky officer said, greeting the boy. “You’re all dressed up and ready to go. C’mon.”
Anderson told the boy that he’d be bored at home. He told him he would trouble his mother. He called in a school administrator to help. In the end, the mother decided to take her son home and try again later.
“Instead of sending kids to court on tickets, we’re using diversion programs to counsel them and talk about why they’re truant,” said Anderson, a 20-year school police veteran. “We try to work with parents. Our main goal is to get the kids to school.”
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