Friday, September 17, 2010

SRO Removed Because Police Goals Differed From BOE Goals

At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, the Board met in executive session and debated the goals of Student Resource Officers as defined in a memorandum from Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon, and measured those goal against those of the Board of Education.

After consideration of McMahon's memorandum, the Board voted unanimously to temporarily removed the Student Resource Officers from Middletown Public Schools.

The Board debated the motion in executive session and then, according to BOE chairman Ted Raczka, adjourned the executive session and voted unanimously to remove the police officers from the school until such time as the Superintendent of Schools could set standards which the Police Department could agree upon for the role of the SRO in Middletown schools.

"A school is a place of learning," Raczka said.  "Children make lots of mistakes.  You work with them to make better citizens.  Should we arrest them for every wrongdoing?  It may work on Main Street, but it's not going to work in the schools.   Especially when you go down to the sixth grade with resource officers."

"I think they should leave them (Student Resource Officers) in there," Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said.  "There's a potential for more trouble happening without them there.  Still, at the end of the day they are police officers and they don't stop being police officers when they go into the schools."

Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon expressed confidence that he could work with the Superintendent of Schools to develop standards which could return officers to the schools.

"What's disappointing is that the Board of Education made a unilateral decision without seeking input from me," McMahon said.


Penholder said...

Come on people, these are police officers. Police officers are trained to have a certain "outlook". They do not belong in schools. I would like to see the stats about the kids that have issues and are arrested in school and drop out rate.

Anonymous said...

Using Penholder's logic, then criminals don't belong in our schools as well. Those who do criminal acts need to be purged from the school and enrolled in alternate, comprehensive education environments. I would also enjoy seeing the drop out "stats" of the kids with issues; the ones who have been arrested outside of the school. I bet we could save a lot of money, increase the quality of our education, and make our schools a lot safer if these folks were given a more structured education environment. High school is far too late to begin socialization efforts for these people.

Elizabeth Bobrick said...

Bob Fontaine, principal of MHS, is not a pushover. He is not new to MHS. If Mr. Fontaine saw nothing in the video that, in his view, required use of a taser, then we should all take that seriously.

I don't know why people are continuing to ignore this fact. Do the folks who support the tasering think that an insufficiently trained police officer knows more about handling altercations than the principal?

Before anybody posts that I know nothing about what goes on in the high school: one of my children is an MHS grad; another is a student there now. I'm not an innocent about what goes on in the schools. There are fights. Does that mean that police officers should behave in a school the way they would on a city street?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Bobrick, the answer to your questions is, YES.

Anonymous said...

I support the Board's decision to remove the SROs from Middletown High School. I also support SROs in high schools, in general, but they must be uniquely trained and uniquely qualified law enforcement individuals who have a sincere commitment to the higest principles of community policing for youth, and who are on the same philosophical page as the school and parents. Obviously, these SROs were neither. So why spend the money on them? Until there is a unique fit, and ntil training and philosophy assurances can be made, their presence was a risk in our high school.

This is a very bad example that Middletown has set for SRO programs throughout the State of Connecticut; Chief McMahon should be furious and ashamed that this happened under his watch. So where is his outrage? His own strange reaction to this terrible incident is evidence that he, himself, lacks the law enforcement philosophy and the leadership that it takes to provide excellent SRO service to our schools. More reason to NOT have an SRO program in Middletown schools.

But I still support SRO programs, in general, when they are done well and done right.

Too bad we don't have that.

Anonymous said...

I thought the video didn't show the altercation with the police officer.

BCFire said...

You cannot use that type of logic. The Principal is trained at leading the school. The Police Officer is trained in enforcing laws and when necessary, arrests are made. The Student stole food, then fought the Officer who tried to arrest him. If the school does not want their students arrested for stealing, then I suggest a policy which clearly states that. There are many who believe they can do the jobs of police officers better than them. I have witnessed them day in and day out doing a fine job protecting this community.

It's not fair for us to ask a police officer to turn his or her cheek when they are being resisted or assaulted. Let the Principal teach, the Officer's police, and the Board set policy. Seems to me the wrong people are being blamed here. Again we see the people we have employed as the peace keeper taking the heat for doing their jobs because it does not fit what the policy makers at the BOE want.

Again I remind people that Mr. Fontaine is not trained in Police Work. Neither is the Board of ED. Last year we saw them deny the evacuation of a school because it was only a small gas leak. The City of Middletown has very capable employees who work in Public Safety. I assure you we are highly trained and have plenty of experience dealing with these issues.

David Sauer said...


I understood the principal to say that he didn't see anything on the tape, meaning that the incident was not on the tape, not that he saw the incident on the tape and didn't see a reason to use a taser. The Middletown Press reported that tape did not show the initial confrontation with the police or the fight or use of the taser, the tape only showed the police removing the student from the cafeteria after the entire incident was over. Do you know if there is a tape of the tasering or the events leading up to it?

Man on the town said...

Elizabeth Bobrick. Honestly if anything was on the tape that showed abuse by the officer don't you think it would have been leaked to the news some how.

I see this as political plain and simple. Or did people forget the whole police not letting records out of the school administration office.

Could this be a payback of sorts?

Anonymous said...

People,this is about excessive use of force. Using a taser is dangerous
people have died from being taserd.
Using one under the for stealing food
is excessive use of force.

Anonymous said...

Police officers must sometimes "turn the other cheek" even in the face of much, much more serious crimes when pursuing an arrest or punishment could create a worse outcome than the crime. Do you know how many times troopers short circuit a pursuit because the risk to innocent people outweighs catching the perpetrator?

C'mon BC, the kid stole food. In other communities, if a kid steals food, the principal calls the parent and asks to make sure the family has enough food in the household. Instead, brilliant us, we taser the kid to the ground. Incredible. Sure the student might be an a-class jerk, arrogant, uncooperative and noncompliant. But I bet they knew who "did" it. They could have waited for him to simmer down, reported the incident to the principal or the parent or guardian, and found another, more intelligent and more effective way to get the point across to the student than this stupidity.

Some cops fail to remember that doing nothing in the moment IS a legitimate option and sometimes the best option for everyone involved. But that takes a lot of self-control to pull off.

This incident was all about bravado and getting the kid to comply. He didn't so they forced him to. If this is what Middletown's SROs are trained to do, then they have NO business being in a school with juveniles. Maybe they have no business even being on patrol outside a school, either. Do you want this SRO walking around Main Street with that kind of hyper-vigilance? I don't want to be anywhere near a person with a weapon who makes decisions like this.

The punishment did not fit the crime. Period. Poor judgement, poor training, big ego. Someone should be written up. There should be an internal investigation. The chief should be ashamed this happened under his watch. The union should be ashamed this happened. Instead it is typical duck and cover. Shame shame shame on the entire Middletown PD for this.

Woodrow Wilson Graduate said...

How about we look to parenting, this may be a novel approach to unruly students....... We are missing the most important fact about this entire issue, this student is lacking proper parenting and or discipline in his home. This is evident with the fact that another sibling also engaged the officer trying to subdue the incident with the least amount of force necessary and was escalated only after the students resisted.
Some history for residents of this town, it was not uncommon for a teacher to keep a student from lunch and have them hold a chair above their head as a form of punishment just some 35 years ago, it was not uncommon for a teacher to use mild force to subdue a student. God forbid our teachers act out in the best interest of the majority of students today and attempt to quell an incident or teach a valuable lesson, the lawyers would have a field day.
Moral of the story is that the behavior issues begin at home and these students should be remanded to State custody and at least given a chance to succeed in society because their parnets are asleep at the helm.