In my usual method of doing the logical and thoughtful thing and “waiting until the facts come out” I am ready to comment on the Ben Fields issue.
These are the established facts:
• A female student (a senior) decided to violate school policy by taking her cell phone out and using it in class.
• She was warned repeatedly by the teacher and an administrator to put it away or depart the classroom. The student refused.
• The School Resource Officer (Ben Fields) was called to remove her from the room. She refused to obey his commands.
• A scuffle then resulted between the student and the SRO.
What came out later is the students mother had just died and the student was placed into foster care.
Reading news reports and social media comments about the incident, I see a glaring level of ignorance about what Officer Fields was there to do.
The police do not “serve and protect” the public. That’s all marketing. They “protect” the public indirectly, as an unvaccinated child is “protected” against diseases because the vast majority of children are vaccinated and don’t get those diseases to pass along to the unvaccinated child. The police “protect” the public by putting those who break the law in prison and thus unable to commit more crimes. The job of a police officer is to enforce the law. They do that by investigating alleged violations of the law, arresting those they believe are guilty and bringing them up for trial. Because of this, a police officer should never back down or walk away from a confrontation. If they get into an altercation, the officer has to win 100% of the time. The recent riots in Baltimore is a classic example of the results of such type of capitulation by the police to the mob.
My personal belief is the number of laws should be as few as possible and maximum limitation on the police on how they can operate. When violence is used, the incident must be investigated, however the officer should not be “Tuesday-Morning Quarterbacked” and have their actions and words parsed to the nth degree.
If violence is authorized, it should be proportional to the maximum end of the scale. As a firearms instructor taught me, “If you’re authorized to kill him dead, you’re authorized to kill him dead dead.” In other words, if I have to shoot someone to protect others and I kill him in three shots, another 27 won’t make him any more dead, just more sure he really is dead.
Another personal belief is we are all responsible for our actions. We actively choose our responses to events before us. We all have coping skills to deal with what life throws at us. There are positive coping skills and there are negative coping skills. The authorities get called when people use negative coping skills.
I also do not believe our chronological age should exclusively define if we are an adult. A person who is 17 years and 364 days old is, under large portions of the law a juvenile and the same person the next day is now regarded as an adult. To me, they are the same person because we change, grow and learn over extended periods of time. I firmly believe a person of the students’ age is mature enough to realize the consequences of their actions. If they delude themselves into believing they are exempt from said consequences, that delusion is on them and not on society.
I have sympathy for the young lady for losing her mother. No matter the circumstances of how her mother passed, she deserves to grieve. Being suddenly dumped into foster care is also a traumatizing experience. All that being said, many people lose their parent every day and 99.9% of them do not act out inappropriately. These admittedly traumatizing events do not justify under her acting out and disrupting others.
I have an acquaintance who is an educator and has the unenviable experience of having to deal with difficult students. This acquaintance spoke about possibly using Therapeutic Holds in this situation, which are designed to restrain children with developmental disabilities who lack the skills or ability to regulate their own actions. These holds not only restrain the child and prevent them from harming themselves or others, it provides a human touch which can calm the child and help deescalate the situation.
This almost-adult who was acting out, being disruptive and disobedient brought upon herself the whuppin’ she received. I am not aware if this student has any developmental disabilities. Based on the lack of evidence she has a developmental disability, I will infer she is a fully rational human being with normal powers of reasoning, deduction and decision making. Because she has the ability to reason and decide, she could have peaceably ended the situation at any point. She chose to push it all the way to the end.
The SRO was given the task of removing this petulant almost adult-child from the room, short of causing serious bodily harm or killing her in the process. We all have ideas and suggestions on how “it should have been done” but we weren’t there. Until we have tried to do so, we do not have the authority to declare unequivocally that “this action is what should have been done.” Maybe he wasn’t trained in didn’t know how or had no knowledge about your “perfect move,” maybe he does know about it and was trained in said “perfect move” and decided that it wouldn’t work or he could not apply it in this case.
Maybe, just maybe when physical confrontation is required, you do what you have to do to insure your personal safety while accomplishing the task. Don’t bitch and moan that he put his hand there instead of there during the confrontation. Don’t obsess over how or why the chair the student was in flipped. You can tear the video apart frame by frame in the aftermath and minutely analyze it. Officer Fields did not have that opportunity. At that point of the confrontation it was all fast action and reflexes.
As a conclusion, it is my firm belief that the citizen should have maximum freedom in their actions by making the laws (and thus police encounters) as few as possible. Any time the police become involved, the officer has to operate within strict and clear rules, not guidelines (because there is a difference between rules and guidelines). Once within those rules, the officer should have wide latitude in the proportional level of the force they use in order to accomplish their orders.
Absolute bottom-line: A spoiled brat wanting to appear “tough” decided to act out and got a beat down for her efforts. She could have acted like the adult she soon will be declared and ended the situation before said beat down commenced. The officer was under orders to remove her from the room and I believe acted with restraint in carrying out his orders. I am sure a quick spray of Mace to the face would have made her a lot less combative. Just imagine the outrage from the Twitterverse if he had Maced or Tasered her, or just beat her with a baton.