A Grain of Salt

(Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Illustration by Serina Mercado)
(Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Illustration by Serina Mercado)

Column

By Patrick Tamayo/Opinion Editor

While people were up in arms with how offended they were with Halloween costumes, they still made time to be appalled at an African-American teenager being flipped upside down in her desk, yanked out of said desk and then dragged across a classroom before being arrested.

The girl apparently earned her right to be served and protected for disrupting her class and refusing to obey her teacher.

Having bared witness to a variety of classroom disturbances involving situations and actions far worse than playing with a cellphone and not listening to a teacher, the actions of the responding officer seemed maybe just a tad bit aggressive.

I’m not exactly sure what the proper way a police officer is supposed to handle a disruptive student, but the fact that we find it necessary to have sworn peace officers in schools is probably the bigger question that we as a society should be asking.

It’s one thing to have security, even armed police officers to guard high schools, to make sure unwanted persons aren’t coming on campus, to deter students from leaving campus without permission and to have an officer nearby in the event of an emergency.

But officers should not be allowed to interact with kids who are simply being rude, disrespectful and acting out like teenagers do.

Do these officers have the training to deal with teenagers? It seems that the responsibility to deal with kids, troubled or otherwise, should fall on teachers, counselors and administrators.

Police officers should not be asked to do the jobs that school officials were trained to do.

If schools are going to have resource officers, or whatever other fancy name they want to call them, they should be used as deterrents for wrongdoing not as security blankets when school officials don’t feel like dealing with classroom disturbances.

I understand the argument that the young girl should have been taught to respect her elders, to listen to those in authority and to act like a young adult. However, anything short of pulling out a weapon should not have merited getting snatched out of her desk and knocked about.

Everyone wants their kids to be safe at school and having police officers as security surely gives us the sense that they are indeed safe, but there has to be a clearly defined line as to how these officers are allowed to interact with students.

***

Even with an alleged attempted kidnapping on campus a few weeks ago, I have never felt unsafe at any of our campuses. All my interactions with City College police have always been cordial and professional.

While City College police do a good job of having a presence on all of our campuses, how safe can they actually keep us when they’re not allowed to carry guns?

I understand we’re in San Francisco and I understand the mentality of the area we live in, but we task the City College police department to keep us safe, yet they’re not allowed to carry sidearms.

There is actual crime on and around campus. On top of the alleged kidnapping, in the past there have been robberies in bathrooms and assaults right off campus. Yet we expect our campus police to respond unarmed to quell these situations.

We can’t actually feel safe on campus when those who are supposed to protect us only have a baton, some pepper spray and a cellphone to call police who actually do carry guns.

We fear that campus police carrying guns would lead to them abusing their powers, but we’d be ignorant to think that by allowing them to carry guns would suddenly lead to students getting pistol whipped for smoking marijuana in front of Batmale Hall or having guns drawn on them for being too loud in the library.

In the event that a situation presents itself where campus police need guns, I would rather they have access to them instead of having to depend on an outside agency getting to campus.

Campus safety is not the reason our campus police are not allowed to carry guns. It goes much deeper and gets way more complicated than just safety.

With the continuous problems City College faces, the gun debate is probably not something that will take precedence over the plethora issues that are always present.

Hopefully, campus police’s batons and pepper spray will give San Francisco police enough time to arrive in the event officers with guns are ever needed.

***

Police departments are not suddenly going to get disbanded because of the continuous abuse of power we witness on an almost daily basis due to technology.

As a society we will always need someone to protect us from ourselves. Until we find that savior we will have to rely on our police departments.

Hopefully the responding department will have more than a cellphone, baton and pepper spray.


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Patrick Tamayo | ptamayo@theguardsman.com

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