When a teen gets flipped over in her desk by a police officer and it’s caught on camera, you can bet on it going viral. Especially when the teen is African-American and the police officer is white.
In the latest media-driven hysteria over police activity, a phone video captured Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields forcibly removing a disruptive 16-year-old student at Spring Valley High School from her seat. The video then recorded the officer dragging the girl on the floor once she was down. (RELATED: School Cop SLAMS Girl To The Floor IN HER DESK, Drags Her Across Room)
Fields was dismissed from his job on Wednesday after the sheriff’s investigation into the matter found that the deputy used excessive force for the situation. But — as is the case with other racially-charged events involving police — the furor over the takedown doesn’t just end with the officer’s departure. (RELATED: Arrest Of S.C. Student Sparks FBI Civil Rights Investigation)
More than a few liberals and libertarians have seen the incident as a pivotal example for why cops should be taken out of schools.
Janel George, senior education policy counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote for CNN that school police officers do their utmost to terrorize students of color and need to be removed in order to make sure everyone feels safe. George implies the most horrific interactions that occur in a school are between cops and students acting out.
Vox’s German Lopez said the smackdown was the culmination of what happens when you allow police in schools. According to Lopez, cops are inclined to have “dehumanization bias” against African-Americans. He added that minority students are unfairly disciplined in school, and having law enforcement anywhere near the vicinity of an education facility is bound to produce violence.
Robby Soave of Reason (and formerly of The Daily Caller) also thought that the incident served as a wake-up call for why police presence in schools should be reduced. Soave says the officers on school property actually increase crime through escalating otherwise mild incidents, saying cops are rather unneeded in places that are “already very safe.”
These critics, and others, are in agreement that officers who intervene in disputes and acts of disobedience that are perfectly normal for teenagers, can actually be resolved by a teacher or principal.
At the same time the media was fixated on Fields’s manhandling of a student, local news in Sacramento, California, reported on another school-based bodyslam. Except this time it was a student attacking a principal. Shockingly, it didn’t get anywhere near the coverage of the Spring Hill High School altercation.
Nor did the bodyslam of a Detroit school security guard in 2014 by a then-Michigan State football prospect get much attention.
In fact, rarely do any of the student attacks against teachers and other officials get national coverage. But, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, student violence against teachers is on the rise, along with a whole host of other troubling, school-based crimes.
However, if we take the critics’ word, administrators should be able to handle any disturbance with ease. How a teacher — who’s splayed out on the floor after a student knocked him or her down — would be able to take control of that situation is anybody’s guess. Or how they would break up a weapon-enhanced gang fight. Or handle a kid that decided to bring a gun to kill fellow classmates.
These cases and other disturbances are why a respected, well-trained police officer is needed to keep the peace.
The reason that officers were put into schools in the first place was entirely for safety concerns — not to intimidate minority students into blind obedience. In response to rising crime rates in schools during the 1980s and 1990s, cops were dispatched into those locations. And one of the biggest proponents for cops being installed into schools was the husband of the current Democratic presidential front-runner.
Bill Clinton signed the Cops In Schools program into law in 1999 in response to the spate of school shootings that left dozens of teens dead. A good guy with a gun was considered an adequate solution. Even President Obama endorsed the same idea after the horrific 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
But now that one cop was videotaped using excessive force against an African-American, we apparently need to ditch the idea entirely to make schools safe.
For whom? Criminals?
The implication behind the criticism of school police is that the teens are inherently good and any serious offense would be a one-in-a-million aberration. The fact is schools are places where crime has a good chance of occurring. Parents — and society in general — would like to keep kids safe while they’re trying to learn. That’s why we have police in schools.
The thing to realize is that the greatest threat to student safety isn’t the police — it’s other students. If violence erupted, teachers and administrators are woefully ill-prepared to deal with a chaotic situation. If the violence is used against those teachers and administrators, that’s when you definitely need a cop with the resources to restore order.
Without the police, schools would become far less safe for everybody. To imagine otherwise is pure and simple naivete.