The actions of a resource officer at a South Carolina high school has experts examining inconsistencies in law enforcement training.
The report by CBS News’ 48 Hours’ Crimesider examines the training methods for resource officers with Mo Canady, the Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. NASRO provides training to SROs, teaching them how to interact with students and keep teens from entering the criminal justice system.
Resource officers are commonly trained by police, with each department setting their own standards of force towards students, Canady says. Strongly performing officers are supposed to be sent to schools, but the report suggests poorly performing officers may also hold the title.
Resource Officer Ben Fields was fired on Wednesday by Sheriff Leon Lott for flipping over a student’s desk and dragging her across the floor after she was caught using a cell phone in class at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina.
CBS News reports:
“That’s absolutely not how it’s supposed to be,” Canady said. “This has to be one of the best officers in your department. They’re going to be among your most visible officers, and your most-well known in the community.”
“Research suggests that the presence of SROs (school resource officers) might result in more children being involved in the criminal justice system for relatively minor offenses,” analysts for the Congressional Research Service wrote in 2013. “This, in turn, can result in other negative consequences, such as higher rates of suspension or a greater likelihood of dropping-out of school.”
The teen in the Spring Valley High video was arrested along with another student, who stood up for the 16-year-old. Both girls were charged with “disturbing schools.” A lawyer for the teen dragged by Fields claims she sustained a broken arm and bruising after the incident.
Canady and Bernard Melekian, the former director of the Justice Department’s COPS office, collectively agreed charges against teens are usually avoided and were shocked to see the amount of force used during Fields’ takedown.
“I’ve never seen something quite like that before,” Canady said.
“This is supposed to be about providing security and dealing with the issues that come up with students, helping them resolve issues that come up in the criminal justice system,” Melekian said. “And encouraging a positive relationship between the students and police.”
This skewed perception of the levels of training has raised concerns about NASRO, but Canady insists the program can be helpful towards developing strong relationships between resource officers and students.
SOURCE: CBS News | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform
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