Two officers who police Baltimore’s public schools walked out of jail Wednesday pending trial for assault and misconduct after their violent confrontation with a student was recorded by another teenager.
Both have checkered records, prompting parents and authorities alike to question whether enough is being done to prevent violent people from being hired to keep schoolchildren peaceful and safe.
Police said Wednesday that Saverna Bias allegedly told her fellow officer, Anthony Spence, to use force against the teen. According to a witness, she said, “You need to smack him because he’s got too much mouth,” police said. The video shows Spence shouting profanities as he repeatedly slaps and kicks the boy, telling him to leave the school and go home.
Spence was not trying to arrest the 10th grader, neither was he acting in reasonable self-defense, city police said.
At a packed school board meeting Tuesday night, some parents and principals implored officials to keep officers in the schools for everyone’s safety. Students and their advocates countered that having armed police with insufficient oversight in schools can be damaging and dangerous.
Tim Martin, an administrator at the New Hope Academy, said he understands the frustration, but believes most officers show enough patience to “therapeutically de-escalate students in crisis and help school personnel maintain a safe school environment.”
Students from the activist group City Bloc also spoke up, saying that school police officers can make some students feel unsafe, threatening them with the message that “the world sees them as inherently violent and incapable of success.”
“We are not enemies or punching bags,” a City College student said, reading the City Bloc statement. “Students shouldn’t be criminalized. We need to learn in an environment where we don’t feel threatened by school police officers.”
Read more at JETMag.com.