Civil Rights Groups Are Calling on Governor Perry to End the Use of Tasers and Pepper Spray in Schools

PepperSprayCopKid.jpg
rczajka
Last year, the Texas Legislature passed on the chance to ban cops and security guards from using Tasers and pepper spray on students in public school. With the state's largest police group, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, lobbying against it (the bill "prohibits school district peace officers from using non-lethal or compliance weapons," CLEAT lamented), state Senator Royce West's proposal died in committee.

The legislative failure has hardly daunted the measure's two main outside backers, the ACLU of Texas and Texas Appleseed, which have embarked on a new strategy: a letter-writing campaign.

The first letter went to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in December and urged the agency to write the Taser-and-pepper-spray ban into its official rules. When TCOLE claimed it didn't have the authority, the groups sent a missive to the Texas Education Agency.

On Wednesday, they followed up with a dispatch asking Governor Rick Perry to intervene.

The argument put forward by the ACLU, Texas Appleseed and several other civil-rights groups that co-signed the letters is that Tasers and pepper spray are too dangerous to be used on minors and, while perhaps useful for subduing suspects on the street, do not belong in public schools.

See also: With More Police Officers in Schools, Thousands of Texas Students Wind Up In Court Each Year

"The risks associated with Taser and pepper spray use on children are well documented," the letter says, citing research linking Taser shocks to heart attacks and a 2009 incident in which students at Dallas' Hillcrest High were hospitalized after pepper spray used to break up a fight spread through the ventilation system. "In addition to health risks, experts condemn heavy-handed use of force on young people because it is counterproductive, traumatic, and undermines the relationship between youth and the police officers with whom they interact."

Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller says his officers don't use Tasers or stun guns but sworn officers are allowed to carry pepper spray. "The OC spray is a part of the force continuum that our department uses with regards to use of force," he writes in an email. That continuum "mirrors the same criteria as the Dallas PD utilizes" when deciding to use force.

Safety concerns have led other agencies dealing with minors to heavily restrict the use of "less than lethal" weapons. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department, for instance, bans Tasers and severely limits the use of pepper spray in county and state juvenile facilities. The Texas Department of Family and Protective services allows neither weapon to be used "for disciplinary or emergency behavioral interventions."

These are the same arguments that failed to sway lawmakers when they considered the measure last spring. What's changed is that opponents now have a horrific case study to point to of the potential consequences of allowing Tasers in public schools.

The case, cited in each of the three letters, took place at Cedar Creek High School in Bastrop last November. Noe Nino de Rivera, 17, was Tased by a school resource officer as he was apparently walking away from a fight, which Texas Appleseed and the ACLU say he wasn't involved in. The Austin American-Statesman has school surveillance video:

Rivera suffered serious brain injury as a result and was kept in a medically induced coma for more than 50 days.

The outcome isn't typically that severe, but the Tasers and pepper spray in schools aren't uncommon. In their letter, the ACLU and Texas Appleseed cite almost two dozen news reports describing their use over the past several years across the state, including in Grand Prairie, Duncanville, and Dallas. The list does not include that time when a cop at a Mesquite middle school maced a baby squirrel.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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63 comments
snowbunnylover2014
snowbunnylover2014

leftists want the children in charge over the police and the school in charge over the students



holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Little Johnny, don't be fucking little Katie in the bathroom, please.  And if you do, honey, use the free condom dispenser because one day you when you reach Manhood it will cost you a quarter.

Then again, maybe not.

For you see Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the fucking Twilight Zone.  A place where you can't tell children to abstain from sex any more than you tell them to not carry automatic weapons in school.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Granted misuse is always possible, but what is suggested be done when dealing large aggressive high-school "children"

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The degree to which a school board accessorizes their hall monitors is a function of just how scared they are of their little darlings.

How bizarre that society has become so tolerant that we even consider armed security in secondary education settings.  In fact, what will it look like in 20 years?  Teachers issuing lessons from behind steel cages and razor wire?  And I don't blame them for feeling a bit insecure regarding their safety, for it is only a reactive response to an emerging condition.

Our little sweeties are fornicating animals who don't like being told what to do.  Soon, we won't even be able to import teachers to hustle them through and toss them out onto the rest of us.

Oh gee.  What to do?  Angst abounds.  I know!

Give Intolerance a try.

Because hugs and kisses and telling them they are special is a non-starter.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... suffer the children.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Yep, I am all for banning the use of pepper spray and tasers.  Let's just go back to the riot shotguns with 10 rounds of 12 gauge Magnum 4X Buckshot.  Granted it is messy, but things sure do quiet down in a hurry.


Perhaps we should do what was done for security in the lounge areas of DeGaulle Airport in Paris in the 80's.  The officer is dressed head to toe in a black leather suit with black leather boots and gloves, body armor; and, topped off with a full face motorcycle helmet (actually it is made with kevlar so it is also bullet resistant) with a reflective face shield.  The officer is carrying a fully automatic rifle and is accompanied by an attack dog.  The officer's weapons belt carries additional clips for the rifle, a side arm, combat knife and walkie talkie.


Please note that the officer does not carry handcuffs.  His job was not to detain terrorists.  His job was to kill them.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Petitioning Perry?


Fat chance.


He tases Anita every time she gets that frisky look in her eyes.

He's saving himself, you know. That pesky constitutional amendment is almost outta here.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Any School Board with any lick of sense would not allow a district to place security guards in its schools with tasers and pepper spray.

the need for these implements is not shown to exist, and the potential for misuse is all too obvious.

ruddski
ruddski

The image used to illustrate this article is great.

Where did y'all get it from, North Korea?

manpanties
manpanties

the pussification of adults in this country is out of control.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Officers weighing less than 150 lbs need a non-lethal alternative.  Otherwise its shoot center mass.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Banned?  I'm not so hot on that.  Reserving them solely as an alternative to lethal force?  Absofuckinglutely.  When they are used, then they should be treated by the administration the same as a use of deadly force, with the same investigation done.


If you can show that you had to taser or pepper spray the kid instead of killing him, I'm OK with that.  If the best you can do is "well, it would have been sort of dangerous for me the cop to have to grapple with him, and I was due for my lunch break, so I just tasered him instead" then you should go to jail.

ruddski
ruddski

The last time I was in one of Arlington's top schools which shall remain nameless, I had to cut through the cafeteria at lunchtime to get to the vice-principal's office, to plead the case of a kid I was mentoring.

I was thankful for the posted, uniformed, badass-looking guards, but I remember telling myself: "self, next time you gotta do this, bring that little canister of pepper spray"

BTW, I heard no English being spoken, and all the kids were segregated by race/national origin. It was kinda like being at MIA. A lot of these kids are BIG, and pretty damn dangerous-looking.

You know The old saying: "If you want to see what your community will be in ten years, visit the public schools".

That there's tasers and pepper gas and such in even our best community schools should surprise no-one.

ruddski
ruddski

Mav, have you ever visited a youth detention facility to, you know, observe?

How many inner-city campuses have you visited to observe?

roo_ster
roo_ster

@everlastingphelps  

Pshaw.  

OC & Taser are not, nowadays, used as less-lethal alternatives to protect the LEO, but as a chemical or electrical whip to gain compliance.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@ruddski  

The thought of you mentoring students scares me more than all the pepper spray in Texas.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ruddski  this seems to be a large school district problem.  I will be thinking about those things in a few years when its time to send the kid of to kindergarten 

iwearblack
iwearblack

@ruddski  It's even worse in DISD schools, even in middle school... I'm very thankful for the charter school my son attends now... Demographically, its not much different, but it's hardly as sketchy and violent as DISD...

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Those things don't work, hon. Stuff some Kleenex in there.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

odd, nothing to do with "a youth detention facility" and this issue. clearly you are very confused on what this is about, which is security guards in public schools.

when you understand the subject feel free to contribute.

ruddski
ruddski

I'm quite familiar with the incident. The people were warned, then given every opportunity to disband, and the consequences of ignoring the order were clearly explained. As I recall, the kids then agreed to be sprayed.

I think, in the end, the cops lost out though.

In reference to my remark, this image of a cop spraying a little Indian kid who is apparently, or obviously, doing no wrong is similar to North Korean propaganda depicting America as a police state, etc. I find it odd that it would be used to illustrate this article.

Heavy-handed, to say the least, but maybe I'm missing the intended humor.

wcvemail
wcvemail

A weird, unintended consequence was that the cop received 38K workman's comp for "mental anguish," which he claimed was caused by the death threats he received after his contact information was published by Anonymous. The directly-sprayed protesters received 30K from the university.

ruddski
ruddski

@everlastingphelps

How about teachers and students weighing less than 150 pounds?

Are you assuming these non-lethal tools are solely for the guards protection?

ruddski
ruddski

They would laugh at you, heartily.

I've walked the walk, bubba, have you, or are you all just mouthy, ignorant bravado?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @ruddski  

Arlington kindergartens are known worldwide as hotbeds of violence.

ruddski
ruddski

@ScottsMerkin

I would avoid large districts if not government schools altogether, unless you're lucky enough to live in a town where the parents are very, very involved with the school.

None of my grandchildren are slated for public school, because my kids went to public school (the youngest spent the first 3 years in private).

What really pisses me off is the "pro-choice" crowd who keep minority kids trapped in dangerous, shit schools for reasons having nothing at all to do with the kids' safety or education.

Hello, Congressional Black Caucus, hello teachers unions, on behalf of the kids, a hearty "fuck you". You're welcome!

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @ruddski  One word -- don't.  Find a decent private school (not all of them are decent either) or homeschool them.  Your kids deserve better than state indoctrination.

ruddski
ruddski

The reason we bought a house where we did in Arlington 25 years ago was the same reason my father endured up to two-hour commutes when I was a kid - decent schools.

That same school, which I put three kids through, is now one of those schools I would never, ever send my kid to.

To paraphrase a popular blogger and law professor, sending your kid to public schools can be considered a form of child abuse.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

yeah, "juvie" and public schools, just all one pea in a pod....

why don't we extend the rules that exist for the "juvie" you speak of to schools?

from the letter linked above:

"Under the Texas Juvenile Justics Department's administrative rules, Tasers are not permitted for use in county or juvenile facilities, and the use of pepper spray is tightly regulated"

so much for your 'point"....

ruddski
ruddski

Mavdog, kids in juvie, kids in schools. They're the same thing in relation to potential for violence.

My point being, these kids could get tased off school grounds for doing the exact same thing on school grounds they can't get tased for?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@leftocenter

to be precise, taken from the West bill mentioned above:

"Relating to a prohibition against the use of certain sprays, stun guns, and Tasers by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against public school students"

could easily include the "rent-a-cop" security guard person...

leftocenter
leftocenter

@mavdog @ruddski

The issue is NOT "security guards."  These are police officers serving in the role of School Resource Officers in the schools.  They aren't rent-a-cops. 

ruddski
ruddski

@paul

If I respond in kind and call you a name, will you take responsibility fir sparking the resulting outrage?

Probably not, so I'll point out that if I am breaking the law and a cop informs of such then explaining the consequences, and understanding said consequences I agree to suffer said consequences resulting in the cop delivering on the promise, would you call me a moron?

I would.

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

@ruddski The united states has 5% of the worlds population and 23.4% of the world's prison system population..this is a police state moron

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Occupy Whatever at UC Davis. They wouldn't leave the whatever they were occupying, and cartman demanded that they respect his authoritah.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@wcvemail  

Please tell me you just made that $38k bit up?  Because if you didn't, I think I might have a coronary.

ruddski
ruddski

@wcvemail

As I recall, there was video of the kids discussing what to do, then agreeing to be sprayed for the martyr effect, but I'm not going to bother researching it. I just don't think the image represents the article, it's propagandist.

No biggie, just a quibble. But if you look at the artists work, he's got that cop spraying just about everything but helpless kittens.

ruddski
ruddski

@holman

No biggie, because USMC is not accepting any more recruits weighing over 110 pounds - which is the weight that 67% of the female recruits can carry or drag a minimum of 30 yards.

In all future USMC actions, Marines will not be allowed to engage the enemy in firefights at a distance greater than thirty yards from an armored personnel carrier, helicopter or other suitable evacuation device. Should they do so, they will be subject to court-martial for violation of the Equal Rights in Combat Protection Act.

This is why every squad has to be accompanied by at least two qualified lawyers if they embark on a combat mission (hence the change to "semper fee"), as well as a trained survey team to determine legal battle distance, and a stenographer.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @ruddski  

The Marine Corps' plan to require women in the branch to do pull-ups has been delayed because it could be too costly in terms of prohibiting otherwise qualified personnel from the service.  In a reversal last January, the Marines decided against going ahead with a proposal from its top officer, Gen. James Amos, in November 2012 that one standard for the women's strength test be the same as for men: at least three pull-ups.  Data collected by the Marines in November showed that 55 percent of women at the service branch's basic training facility in Parris Island, S.C., couldn't meet the new standard.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ruddski  Since I only accept them as an alternative to lethal force, I'll let them carry a taser or pepper spray when they pass the same qualifications as to carry a firearm.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@holmantx @everlastingphelps  There's plenty of 150lbs+ women who are big enough to be cops.  


If you can't grapple with a suspect without using electronic torture, chemical weapons or gunfire, you are a danger to the public.

ruddski
ruddski

I think Myrna is drunk, mad as hell, and she's not going to take it anymore!!

Which is why her boyfriend took off down to the Asian massage place. He want happy ending!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ruddski  a couple of my buddies graduated Arlington schools, mid 90's, and they all say there is no way they would send their kids to school there now, hence they moved to Mansfield

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski  Who cares?  Stop whining about your dysfunctional family.  Take it to Dr. Phil.

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