Thursday, October 31, 2019

Use of Force Against Disruptive Students

At the last two Richland 2 School Board meetings a member of the public has mentioned two incidents when a School Resource Officer (SRO) used force against a student.

One was the October 2015 incident at Spring Valley High School. A student, Shakara (last name?), a minor, had been disruptive, and an assistant principal and the SRO were summoned to the classroom. Niya Kenny leaped to her feet and began recording with her cell phone, also uttering a disparaging phrase about Deputy Ben Fields, the SRO. After Shakara refused to follow the SRO's directions, he removed her from her desk.

The press went crazy locally and nationally and repeatedly broadcast and published Kenny's video. No media ever published an earlier video that, I've been told, showed Shakara slapping Dep. Fields three times. That's called battery on a peace officer, for those of you unfamiliar with criminal law. Kenny's "Glamour Shots" photo was used in the media, rather than her booking photo at the jail in Columbia. The photo was taken by a McClatchy Company photographer from California in Columbia to cover the floods, and it was taken in The State's interview room. What other arrested person gets that kind of treatment?

Fields lost his job and is suing to get it back.

The mistake made at Spring Valley High School was that the policy in place was not followed. When the teacher summoned the assistant principal, the AP should have instructed the teacher to take all the other students and leave the classroom. That would have removed Shakara's audience. At that point, the AP should have been able to "reason" with her. If that didn't work, the AP should have called the SRO. As soon as it become a criminal matter and not a school disciplinary matter, then the SRO does whatever is necessary. Richland 2 policy was not followed; NASRO policy was not followed.

A more recent incident involved three students at Richland Northeast High School who were beating and kicking a student on the ground. The SRO used his taser. The media didn't even name both adult students. If the public knew the circumstances and the size of one of those "children", they would understand why the SRO used his taser after kid refused to end his assault on the kid on the ground.

An SRO will use such degree of force as is necessary to stop an assault and battery. A taser is a low-level, less-than-lethal weapon. If a student refuses to follow an SRO's order to stop an assault or battery, then the SRO will attempt to restrain his physically. If that doesn't work, a taser will be used. If that doesn't work, then additional force will be used..The kid on the ground being beaten must be protected.

"Kids" come today in all sizes, shapes, weights. Many of them are "of generous size". Specific information should be gained before judgments are made.