Students at an Arkansas junior high school this week were clearing the hall too slowly in the opinion of a police officer assigned to the school, so he did something mind-numbingly dumb: he pulled out his pepper spray and squirted it into the air. The result? Pandemonium, as screaming, gagging and vomiting students ran down the halls and out of the school. Three students were rushed to the emergency room and more than a dozen others were picked up by their parents because of difficulty breathing.
Clearly this officer is not the brightest porch light on the block, but the entire episode brings up something we’ve written about on MyBrownBaby on more than one occasion: Police officers and kids just do not go together. It’s simply asking for way more trouble than it’s worth.
An investigation by a Chicago advocacy group found that police officers in the Chicago schools resulted in far too many black juveniles being placed into the criminal justice system too easily and too early. The group, called Project NIA, analyzed Chicago Police Department data and found that 20 percent of all juvenile arrests took place on school grounds.
If you are a police officer and you are inclined to use pepper spray to help you control adolescents, I gotta come out and say it: you’re an idiot. School district officials in Pine Bluff haven’t released the officer’s name, so we’re not engaging in name-calling. We’re just stating the obvious. Yeah, we understand the students can get rowdy at times—hormones and knuckleheads are also not a good mix. But police officers can’t be the answer. If the school staff members can’t control 12-year-olds without the presence of law enforcement, perhaps they need to look for another line of work.
1. Police Officers in School? A Recipe for Student Failure
2 A Middle Schooler Strip Searched in Front of Classmates? This Needs to Stop
3. Black and Hispanic Students Face Harsher Discipline, Lower Grade Education In School