Officials take new look at school officers after slam video

January 5, 2017 4:00 am
After a video surfaced showing a police officer slamming a student to the floor, officials in ’s largest district will take a fresh look at standards for officers assigned to work in schools.
The Wake County school district will review the memorandum of understanding that places an armed police officer in every high school and some middle schools, district spokeswoman Lisa Luten said yesterday.
The review will include “determining if changes need to be made to the agreement,” she said in an email.
In a brief video posted on Tuesday on Twitter, an officer surrounded by students at Rolesville High School lifts and drops a girl on her left side, then pulls her to her feet and leads her away.
The officer, identified as Ruben De Los Santos, was placed on paid administrative leave, the Rolesville police chief said.

The officer is Hispanic and the female student in the video is black, Mayor Frank Eagles said.The video doesn’t show what led up to or followed the episode. Police Chief Bobby Langston told town commissioners on Tuesday that he’s reviewing the incident, which he said began as a fight between two female students.

Ruben De Los Santos is on paid leave while the case is being investigated.

Rolesville High School Principal Dhedra Lassiter said in a statement posted on the school’s website that district and law enforcement officials were reviewing the standards for officers in schools.
“I, like many of you, am deeply concerned about what I saw in the video,” Lassiter wrote. “The safety of our students is always our first priority. Our school district works with many dedicated officers who protect our students. It is vital that our children have a positive relationship with these law enforcement officials. Those relationships are built on mutual respect.”
De Los Santos has been assigned to the school since it opened in 2013, Eagles said. About 2200 students in grades nine through 12 attend the school.
Wake County schools don’t have their own police force so the district contracts with local police to place school resource officers on campuses.
Under the agreement, school resource officers can provide security, offer advice and act as law enforcement officers to address criminal matters or when there’s “an imminent threat to health or safety.” Their multiple duties also include acting as role models and providing information about community agencies that can help young people and families.
The agreement allows them to use force but it cannot be “excessive, arbitrary or malicious.”
The girl shown in the video told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that she was trying to break up a fight between her sister and another student when the officer came up behind her and slammed her to the ground. The girls’ mother, Desiree Harrison, told WRAL-TV she was called to the high school about her other daughter and had no idea what had happened to the one in the video.
“When I’m looking at this video, I’m like ‘Oh, my God, this cannot be happening to my child’ because I was just up at the school and they didn’t even tell me what happened to her,” Harrison said. “They were so busy trying to get rid of the one who was in a fight but didn’t even say something about the one that was not involved in anything.”
In addition to the Twitter video, Eagles said all Rolesville police officers received body cameras in August, and officials will review any video from the school’s security cameras.
The American Civil Liberties Union has defended students in other confrontations with police officers working in their schools, such as the case of a girl who refused to surrender her cellphone at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina in October 2015. School officials called in a sheriff’s deputy who flipped her backward in her desk-chair, then tossed her across a classroom.
The video sparked national outrage and reviews of whether officers should be involved in school discipline that doesn’t involve criminal behavior. The deputy was fired, and in November 2016, the U.S. Justice Department filed what’s called a statement of interest in the ACLU’s challenge of the “disturbing schools” law.
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