I always seem to be inspired to write when something alarming happens in the news…and lately it seems those “alarming” things have all centered around race and the police.
This week there is the case of a resource officer in a Columbia, SC high school arresting a student for disturbing class. The fact that he arrested her is not the issue; the issue is how he did it. You can watch the video here. At least three videos of the incident are circulating on the Internet; one of the videos appears to show the student hitting the officer after he grabbed her arm. What happened after that is what is the most disturbing aspect of the incident.
The officer pulls the student out of the desk, flipping her and the desk over in the process. After he frees her from the desk, he throws her across the room.
He throws her. Across the room.
There are a number of things that could be – and have been – said about this incident. I have read comments from both sides of the issue, either defending or condemning the officer’s behavior. The officer’s superior stated that the actions of the officer were not proper procedure, which is why this officer lost his job. I have a few observations – and a lot of opinions. I will outline a few:
The student was insubordinate to her teacher and the officer and should have been disciplined. This is an important aspect to the story. The student did disobey her teacher. Based on the rules in place, the teacher was within his/her rights to call in the resource officer to arrest the student. The student was wrong to disrupt the class, and equally wrong in disobeying the officer.
The officer was doing his job. Hear me out on this one. The officer was doing his job. This is a fact. The fact that a student can be arrested for disrupting a class is disconcerting to me (unless the student is being violent, which in this case she was not); but that is acceptable in this district, and therefore, the officer was doing what his job required of him.
This is where it gets tricky…
There was no reason to throw the child across the room. If a parent does this while “disciplining” their child, we call it child abuse. Why is it okay for an officer to do this to a child? Extracting her from the desk is tricky; but throwing her? Where is the justification in that? Is it enough to say “she should have done what she was told”? If this officer was her father, and she was sitting at the dinner table at home, would we defend the father for manhandling his child and throwing her across the dining room?
Police officers are human beings that make mistakes in judgment. This officer did that. He should not have been that physical with the student. Additionally, pointing out that fact does not negate her responsibility for her actions.
I don’t expect this will change anyone’s opinion on the matter; but I have a concern here that whenever something like this happens, there is the kneejerk reaction to defend the officer, no matter how egregious their actions. In the face of that I have to ask myself why.
I admit…I just don’t get it…