At a press conference in Police Headquarters this afternoon, Lieutenant Heather Desmond addressed concerns that have been raised over the use of a Taser by a police officer at Middletown High last Friday.
School Resource Officers are regular, on-duty police officers stationed for the school year at Keigwin, Woodrow Wilson, and Middletown High Schools. An SRO at Middletown High used the taser on a student, according to Desmond, "in response to the student becoming physically combative with the School Resource Officer. ... In no way was the use of the Taser deployed in response to the alleged theft of food."
Desmond said that Acting Chief Patrick McMahon and Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette had met this morning to discuss the incident and the School Resource Officer program, and would continue to meet in the weeks ahead. She said both men want the SRO program to continue in all three schools, "The purpose of the SRO is to make the kids feel safer."
The legal guidelines for determining whether a police officer has used excessive force were most recently established in The Supreme Court's 1989 ruling in the case of Graham vs. Connor. Desmond said:
A review of the incident is on going, and Acting Chief McMahon would like to reiterate that to this point, the use of the Taser was appropriate under the Graham VS. Connor standard as well as the department's policies and procedures.
The police department has no policies regarding the use of a Taser on minors or in schools. She said that their use was determined by the circumstances, "Each officer evaluates the situation [and decides whether or not to use the Taser]."
In response to a question, Desmond said that the school's videotape of the incident was not currently part of the Police Department's review, she was unsure if McMahon had reviewed the tape.