Thursday, March 30, 2006

Kansas Continues To Offer Multiple Reasons For Not Living There

This is...disturbing.

Wichita, Kansas is apparently using tasers in their school systems.

By the end of the month, all 22 SROs in the Wichita schools -- seven in high schools and 15 in middle schools -- will carry the controversial device....

As commissioned police officers, the SROs adhere to the same use-of-force policy that the rest of the officers do, Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said.

"We are not going to be using these to break up 12-year-old kids brawling," Stolz said.

Lt. Kevin Vaughn, firearms instructor and SWAT commander for the police department, said officers are being taught that someone refusing a verbal command is not sufficient grounds to use a Taser.

"There's got to be something else," Vaughn said. "You'd better have a strong reason for why you deploy," especially in a school. (ed.-Here's an interesting thing to note: Vaughn doesn't mention school in his quote - the paper added it for him.)

Officers are instructed not to Taser the very old or the very young, but Stolz said there is no universal "thou shalt not" in the policy.

"The fact of the matter is, if a 94-year-old man is coming after an officer with a gun or a knife," then the officer might fire his Taser, Stolz said.

"Contrary to perceptions, officers are not zapping kids for not having hall passes," Trump said.

Well, that's a relief. It sounds like this is a last-ditch sort of thing for emergencies only.

Oh. Wait.

Police tried to use a Taser on a Wichita student a month before stunning another student with a Taser two weeks ago at North High School, police records show.

A report released Wednesday shows that a school resource officer tried unsuccessfully to stun a 14-year-old girl with a Taser during an altercation Feb. 17 inside Coleman Middle School.

In a third incident, a school resource officer pulled his Taser during an altercation with an "emotionally upset" 15-year-old boy Feb. 7 inside East High School, the report said.

Interestingly, the entire article focuses on the Police response to these incidents, and spends virtually no time on the student/parent perspective. Luckily, someone's paying attention.

Here's a timeline of events, as provided to the website This Modern World by the Hope Street Youth Development:

February: Wichita Police introduce tasers into schools.

Early March: Students at Wichita West High School discover this and are understandably concerned. Organized by Hope Street, they gather 250 signatures on a letter to the school district asking about health effects and the district’s use policy.

March 16th: A 15 year-old student is tasered during a confrontation at another high school, Wichita North. However, no one except those involved know at the time because the school district covers it up.

The next week: The tasering becomes public thanks to an anonymous tip from a teacher. The Wichita Eagle criticizes the school district for trying to hide it.

Today, March 30th: The Wichita Eagle reveals two other attempts to taser students, including a 14 year-old girl.

This is a news to me.

Thanks once again to This Modern World, here's Amnesty International's report on tasers. I've got no real idea what the school climate's like in Wichita. For all I know, every kid comes in armed and angry. But as a general rule, is the use of potentially-lethal weapondry on 14 and 15 year-olds acceptable behavior?

17 Comments:

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Okay here's the thing though. I've worked with girls in that age group and had to learn how to do proper restraints. Wit hsome of these young ladies I would much rather use a taser if they were coming after me. I'm 6'4" and 240 lbs, but when you get some of these kids riled up even the light weights can be scary. Add to that fact that they could have guns or knives and possibly be on drugs and I'm not against officers carrying tazers. It's either that or clubs, unless you have another option. Having said that there should definitely be intense scrutiny of their use.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

I'm sorry if you need to FUCKING ELECTROCUTE a child to restrain them then you are probably in the wrong line of work.

Perhaps dunking Dilly Bars at the Dairy Queen is more your speed. No, wait...you might get Dilly Bar elbow.

(Not directed at you, Scott...you worked with troubled kids...big difference between that and regular school kids, I'd say.)

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

No offense taken, but where do you think these kids went ot school? In my case they went to regular public school. And again, regular restraints can be dificult to learn and execute and can also result in injury or death. One reason they didn't even teach us single person restraints (one person restraining another) and only taught team restraints was because of the possible lethality of single person restraints.

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

I'm saying I don't think you need to employ tactics used to restrain criminals on school children. In general. What's next sniper towers?

The difference is that in your environement the kids have a case history of some sort. Physical encounters are likely more common therefore different measures should be applied. I'd still draw the line at tazering a 14 year old girl.

In a regular school setting I doubt the entire student body is bussed in from Bartertown.

It just seems severe to police an ENTIRE school district.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Especially when taser deaths numbered over a hundred in the past year alone.

I see what you're saying Scott, and having worked amongst some troubled tykes myself, I get what you're saying, but tasers?

Seriously, man, that's some fucked-up Clockwork Orange shit.

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Of course you don't need them in general. I never had to restrain a girl (came close a couple of time). Of course there were staff that did and there were instances where multiple staff had to be called in to do restraints on more than one kid.

School populations are larger. More kids are on meds. Most administrators and teachers have no idea what mental/emotional/developmental problems kids have, much less the school resource officers. Every school system I or my wife have been involved in in any official capacity have at least one resource officer (usually provided by the sheriff or local police). If they get in a situation where there's a fight or stop a child from acting out only to have the child turn on them what would you have them do? Like it or not we do have to police our schools. Until massive changes occur it is necessary to have police nearby.

There are gangs, drug dealers, etc on school grounds. As long as that is the case security is necessary. I keep coming back to what tools do we give those people? Is it a case of "Stop! Or I'll yell 'Stop' again!"? Yes we're talking about children but we aren't talking about our sweet little 5 yr olds. Have you seen the size of some teenage boys these days? Do you know how little regard some of them have for uniforms/authority figures? Some of these children are criminals or will be.

Again, neither of us know much about this particular district and it may be overkill. But you can't dismiss the tactic out of hand. As I said it needs to be closely monitored and any abuse needs to be reported and dealt with harshly.

This hits a little close to home for several reasons. So forgive me if I'm impassioned.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Okay here's a quote from the AA thing you linked to:

"114 taser-related deaths since 2001. The autopsies in 15 of these cases list the use of the taser as a contributory factor."

114 deaths in 5 years only 15 of which list the taser as a "contributory factor". Granted any number of deaths is too many. I certainly don't want any kid tasered to death. So if not tasers then what's your answer? I don't have one. Okay I do but it requires more work and money than the DoE has.

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

The problem, Scott, is that for every kid who may be threatening enough to taser, there are several more who are not, yet are tasered anyway.

To wit:

Disturbing cases continue to be reported. In May 2004 a police officer from South Tuscon, Arizona, used a taser on a nine-year-old girl who was a runaway from a residential home for severely emotionally disturbed children. According to reports, the child was already handcuffed with her hands behind her back and sitting in the back of a police car when the taser was used as an officer struggled to put her into nylon leg-restraints. The officer is reported as saying that the girl was "screaming, kicking and flailing, and would not listen".

I don't care that the kid "would not listen." The kid is emotionally disturbed, and NINE.

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Agreed, that's bad. Like I said, there's no pretty way to handle this. I would've let her kick and scream until she got tired if she was restrained and in the back seat.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

Some of these children are criminals or will be.

Precog Roche?

What kind of psychological effect do you think treating kids like criminals is going to have? On the ones that are on the fence? Is that what they need?

And again this isn't one or two rough schools with detailed histories of being criminal spawning grounds. This is the whole district. It smacks to me of administrators and teachers being too lazy to seek better, more effective alternatives.

And this whole size of kids thing...BULL. SHIT. I'm 6' 210lbs. I have been trained to stop grown ass men much larger than me (and HAVE) without killing them or hurting them. These security guards are fat/lazy hourly schleps. You really want to put them in charge of 100,000 volts(thats a guess) to use against children?

and finally...

I never had to restrain a girl (came close a couple of time).

Roche, sometimes you make it too easy.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

What's wonderful is that I no longer have to manufacture comedy here (using asian sweat-shop comedy labor) - y'all do it for me.

Wanna talk about this restraining-girls-fetish, Scott? We're all friends here.

*serious note: It's not a simple thing, I agree. But I'm with Kat. It smacks of laziness and a desire to find a solution that's "easy."

Those solutions are almost always the worst, no matter the subject.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Let me interject with a mostly irrelevant note.

114 deaths is bad, no doubt, but consider this:

There are over 200 deaths a year from "autoerotic asphyxiation."

Or at least there were a couple of years ago. Strange.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

Take heed, Roche.

(and one of those deaths was Michael Hutchence on INXS...so SCORE!)

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Okay, all jokes aside (and who doesn't like the occaional light bondage) I'll agree that this is "too easy" (as was that shot K) of a solution. But training to stop ass men is something that most cops get (and most resource officers I've known are actual cops not the rental variety) yet they use tasers. I'm not talking about using them on little Sally, unless she sportin' a knife, but sometimes it may be necessary to break up large fights.

I would be interested in knowing waht these "better, more effective alternatives" are.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Whereas I'd be interested in knowing what ass men are, and why we're training people to stop them.

Personally, I'd like to see these men and women trained in defensive retraint. Will that make things messier? Yes. Is it still more humane and less dangerous than tasering? Yes, again.

Wrap them in restraining jackets if you need to. Cuff 'em, Dan-o. But don't treat a child like a Bronx Zoo escapee.

And "autoerotic asphyxiation?" Leave it to Jaba to find a way to bring that into the conversation. :)

Katanga, you are a cruel, cruel man. Also, a funny one.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

Cops are poorly trained. Without getting into how much we pay vs what kind of recruits we get for that $...the short of it is most cops are too dumb to be taught new, more substantive techniques.

Having said all that...I've seen a 70 year old chinese man that weighed less than a teabag fold a 6'2" 180lb guy up like a fucking accordion. Without killing him or permanently injuring him (ego aside).

(PS - I couldn't care less if cops use tasers (or 9mm's) on drunks or suspects...I just draw the line on kids.)

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

I'm with you. Taser a drunk til you're giddy/blue in the face.

It's kids that concern me.

 

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