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Superintendent Will Recommend Tasers In Schools; Majority of Board Signals Agreement

| September 29, 2011

They're coming back. (j. Star)

In what is likely to be the school year’s most controversial initiative, Superintendent Janet Valentine next week will recommend to the school board that deputies–who carry guns and pepper spray–be allowed to carry Tasers on campus in the middle and high schools where the Sheriff’s Offices school resource deputies are posted. At least three members of the five-member school board are ready to ratify the recommendation.

“I haven’t made a recommendation at this point. I will,” Valentine said earlier this week. “My recommendation is that we allow Tasers. I do believe that we need to allow officers to carry and have at their disposal whatever are the safest tools that they have to get something under control. Our priority and Number 1 goal is for the safety of our students and staff.”

Sue Dickinson, who chairs the school board, has been in favor of Tasers going back to the times in 2005 and 2007 when the matter was discussed, and Tasers removed from campus–or at least prevented from being carried by deputies–at the board’s urging. She is still the strongest advocate of Tasers at school deputies’ disposal.

“It’s a very difficult situation, but yet on the other hand a decision needs to be made,” Dickinson said, “because at any given point in time we could end up with another brawl that gets totally out of control.” She was referring to the Aug. 16 fight at Matanzas High School that’s been the catalyst for renewed discussion–and action–on Tasers.

Board members John Fischer and Trevor Tucker are also leaning toward allowing deputies to carry Tasers. “It’s a recommendation that would be positive at this time,” Fischer said.

Tucker is cautious on two points: he would rather leave the decision up to the sheriff’s office itself, not the school board, if that reduces the board’s liability if and when a Taser is used. And he is uneasy about the so-called “force matrix” the sheriff’s office presented the board–the gradual application of a specific kind of force calibrated to each individual incident, up to using a Taser. The matrix, Tucker said, doesn’t differentiate between adults and students, or clarify what such things as “active physical” behavior that justifies using a Taser means. “That would be my only concern,” Tucker said. (See the “Response to Resistance” report the sheriff’s office uses when documenting and justifying the use of a Taser, at the foot of the article.)

Board member Andy Dance is still studying the matter. He said he’s heard good arguments from both sides, but he still has meetings on the matter, and he is hoping to hear public views about it at next Tuesday’s board meeting. “I’d like to hear from as many people as I can,” Dance said.

Board member Colleen Conklin has been as consistently opposed to Tasers in schools as Dickinson has been in favor. “I can’t believe we’re having this discussion,” Conklin said, “because in my mind it goes against students’ safety in the sense that it creates a culture that is not what a true educational culture should be in the schools. The notion that Tasers is how you handle an oversize or large adolescent in an educational setting is not what a school site should be. We are all having an emotional reaction to a terrible situation that took place but the truth of the matter is that a Taser would not have prevented what had happened.”

Many parents are concerned with Tasers’ uses against students regardless. Parents have been especially vocal regarding special needs or special education students–for example, autistic students who don’t have the same self-control as other students–against whom Taser use would, in their view, be inadmissible. It was just such an incident in 2007 (when a Flagler Palm Coast High School student was tased, though he was autistic) that led to the Taser’s expulsion at the time.

The Fight at Matanzas
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Sheriff Don Fleming, his administrative staff and some members of the school administration, including Buddy Taylor Middle School Principal Winnie Oden–the district’s liaison for school deputies–have been pressing to let Tasers back in schools following a student’s assault on Don Apperson, a school deputy, during the Matanzas incident on Aug. 16.

The student, who faces a charge of felony battery against a law enforcement officer, was reported to have head-butted Apperson, injuring him on the left temple, as Apperson was attempting to separate him from fighting with another student. A surveillance video of the incident was released by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office against Valentine’s advice. Valentine says the video sensationalizes the issue.

“This individual got the best of the deputy,” Maj. David O’Brien, the under-sheriff, told WESH-TV, “The deputy was actually attacked, he was actually head-butted by the individual, the deputy was then actually choked by this individual.”

The video clip, a combination of two perspectives of the incident, doesn’t catch the entire incident. It shows the student and Apperson dragging each other across the floor, upright, into a crowd of students, where, Apperson recalls, he was head-butted twice. The student and Apperson at one time end up on the floor, either through the student’s force or Apperson’s attempt to control the student by bringing him to the floor. Apperson says he literally lost about 30 seconds of his memory that day, at that moment, and cannot recall those specific moments. While he’s on his back, the student is throwing punches, at least one of which appears to strike Apperson in the face, violently enough to cause the deputy’s head to jerk back. Two other adults intervened, one of them a security guard at the school, who also fell to the floor, and whose back was hurt enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. Apperson at the time declined to go to the hospital.

In 11 years that he’s been in schools, Apperson said in an interview Friday morning, “it’s never been that bad.”

Had he had a Taser, he might have had the option to disengage from the student when he initially confronted him and the student showed resistance, warning him that the use of the Taser might follow. Apperson in his 11 years in schools has never had to deploy any of his weapons–night stick and pepper spray included–because deputies are trained to de-escalate and control situations. “You can’t train for very situation you’re going to face in law enforcement,” Apperson said. “You can train for 2,000 situation and walk down the hallway then guess what, 2001 jumps out at you.”

The first Taser controversy took place in 2005, when, shortly after his election, Sheriff Don Fleming wanted to make Tasers part of his deputies’ standard arsenal, including in schools. The board opposed the move. Fleming said he’d respect the board’s wishes. But a deputy fired a Taser at the autistic student in 2007–an incident then-Superintendent Bill Delbrugge said should not have escalated as it did–again leading the board to reassert its opposition to Tasers on campus.

The board’s make-up has changed, with three new board members.

Dickinson said it was time to make a decision on the matter.

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53 Responses for “Superintendent Will Recommend Tasers In Schools; Majority of Board Signals Agreement”

  1. says:

    i say put more cameras in the hallways film every square foot of the schools and next probably the bathrooms. this is a sure sign that we are failing as parents. police in the schools, 10 years from now maybe it will be the military . we are definitely losing it as a society. glad i am checking out in 5 years

  2. says:

    hey valentine, the release of the video shows what really happened, the truth is what we are looking for , isn’t it ? or should we hide everything?

  3. mara says:

    It is unbelievable that this discussion is even taking place.

  4. Liana G says:

    From a school choice advocate perspective, this is a fantastic stance this school board and district is taking. Now we will really get more parents involved in the push for school choice!!! Thank you Flagler! You’ve made my day! I Love Florida!!!

    School Choice Expo!

    Explore new opportunities to have a voice in your child’s education.

    Wednesday • November 16, 2011 • 2:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    DoubleTree Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando
    5780 Major Blvd., Orlando, Florida

  5. oldman says:

    Take your children out of public schools as quick as you can. When government is involved its utter destruction. Save your children now. Don’t take the chance of a “accident” to happen to your child. Why send them to a place they have to live in fear from bullies and police.

  6. mamamia says:

    I’ve got an idea….why don’t we just make parents responsible for the behavior of their children?

    Allowing teachers and staff to discipline students again and let those students know at an early age that misbehavior will not be tolerated will go a long way toward making this happen.

    Have you lost your minds? Why are you keeping children in school who are so disruptive no one else can learn? Put them in Juvenile Hall, where they belong. They don’t belong in school. We are keeping them there because the federal government says we must.

    We are sending children to school with armed guards. The children are not the problem; we are.

  7. JIM.R says:

    If Tasers don’t prove to be effective enough, they can arm them with shotguns. gotta keep those little criminals under control, get them used to obeying authority figures now so they fit in to the growing police state we are becoming. This subject and the response of at least three board members show where we are headed as a society.

  8. Jim Guines says:

    This direction is a serious mistake and I will NEVER agree to put Tasers in the schools. Even with this one incident, there is a long record to show that Tasers are unnecessary. The leadership for this board leaves a lot to be desired. This is the weakest board we have ever had. We need some more Colleen Conklins!

  9. Lin says:

    Teachers should be allowed to expell disruptive students when all else has failed in trying to help the student become productive. One disruptive student or worse, a handful, should not be allowed to prevent a whole classroom or students from learning — it makes it impossible for the teacher to teach. If the Federal government says the kids have to remain in school — this is just another reason why the Fed govt has no business in the education of our kids. Keep it local.

    Every professional needs the tools of their trades. Teachers are being sent into the classrooms without the tools to keep control. Tasers aren’t creating the crimes — the sheriffs need some tools, too. Check out the police reports for crimes in the schools. We can’t close our eyes and pretend we have a completely non-violent society. I’m afraid for the innocent students and teachers and employees.

  10. Jon Hardison says:

    I was completely against tasers in schools, and in a lot of ways, I agree that the video shouldn’t have been shown, but now that it has, I think my mind is changed. An officer of the law should NEVER be under attack. Children should NEVER be under attack, and while I know that this is a single extreme situation, a taser in the hands of a skilled, level headed officer would have ended it. That kid needed to be dropped where he stood.

    All that said, my problem with tasers has always been their over use. Remember the pissed off five year old that happened to be holding a small bit of glass? Tased to bits! That’s insane!

    Officers of the law have a unique perspective on the world and I’ve always thought it was overkill to have them be the primary source of security in schools. Would it not make more sense for school security officers to be accountable exclusively to the school board? This would allow the school board to have their own definition of reasonable force and when it could be used. This could probably save the school board a little money, create a few jobs… perhaps the Sheriff’s office could also provide some training.

    It’s probably a bad idea because of the massive shift in liability, but it’s all still county. I don’t like the idea that the School Board has to basically take what’s given them, even when it’s probably too much.

    AHHHHH! What to do here? I honestly don’t know. It’s all scary.

  11. pjk says:

    This is only going to cause law suits for the county. Just discipline the kids. go back to basic punishment starting at a young age . We would not be at this point today. I cant believe how stupid our city officials have become.
    I have seen nothing valuable from this woman she needs to be put out to pasture.

  12. Jackie Mulligan says:

    I cannot believe that the majority board and the superintendent are headed in this insane direction.

    Do they read the papers and articles about the disastrous consequence of police officers actions when using tasers??????

    INSANE, isn’t the mace that they carry enough?
    I agree that parents should look at alternative schools for their children , before they have to face a tragedy because some scared policeman uses their Taser on a child, yes that is what is in school, children!
    They are not in a prison system for having committed horrendous crimes, they are in a school. That does require a teacher to supervise their actions , not fix a problem by possibly killing some child with a Taser.
    Find a better way to handle the problem, do not resort to a knee-jerk reaction.
    Figure it out ,all you educated people, violence breeds more violence. What will the unruly student do then, bring a gun to school so he or she can defend himself or herself against the Taser?

    Please re-think this . and vote NO TASERS!

  13. Lin says:

    “Inside every cynical person, there’s a disappointed idealist”
    George Carlin

  14. Dudley Doright says:

    Interesting comments from those against tasers. Shows me that they don’t have a clue what goes on in our classrooms today. I have been a classroom teacher until recent when I retired. I loved the kids hated the parents! For those of you folks that don’t want the tasers, spend a day in the classroom, cafeteria and hallways during class changes. That should slap you in the face with a good dose of reality. What gets me is the parent who insists that their child would never act Inappropriately. Always somebody else’s falt! If you have not put a day into todays classroom, then you don’t have a clue. Leave It To Beaver no longer goes to school here. Get a grip Ms. Mulligan and Mr. Guines.

  15. dontbesoparanoid says:

    Yes the innocent “child” pummeling the deputy. Why should we care though it’s not like the cop is a human being or anything….

    There were no cops in school when I went way back when…not even hall monitors.. Back then teachers were still looked at as authoritive figures and most kids thought twice before getting out of line. This is a different world than that of when I went to school…Most kids weren’t on some type of behavioral modification drug like so many are today.

  16. Lin says:

    Hope I’m not being misunderstood here — I think deputies should have tasers

  17. Liana G says:

    Lin, I agree with you wholeheartedly about keeping gov’t out of education but let’s include them all – local, state, and federal!

    In a capatilist society such as ours, schools will emerge to educate the disruptive students, the not so disruptive, and the very meek, and will do an outstanding job. Gov’t SHOULD NOT get to pick and choose whom to educate. That’s discriminatory. Instead, Gov’t should give parents and students the choice to decide where they want to receive their K-12 education the same way they get to decide where to receive their college education. But no, gov’t does not want to have to give up their high paying cushy office vacation type jobs! Gov’t is the biggest welfare scheme that was ever masterminded and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and out of control.

    We can blame the parents all we want, but who educated those parents? Our school system has to take responsibility. And why are we so quick to punish students so harshly and severely, yet when its teachers and higher ups behaving inappropriately, its business as usual. This double standard is what’s wrong with our school system, and parents are aware of this.

    School districts will suspend a student versus expell a student becasue a suspension will still allow them to keep the funds the state gives them to educate that child. On the other hand, expelling the student means loss of those funds.

    I was a meeting the other day and all I heard in the very first 15 minutes was about being positive and non critical and positive positive positive. Then right after that long positive spew, it was right into gov’t bashing at the higher level. Funny how these folks bash one form of gov’t while failing to realize they are part of the very same gov’t – the problem, not the solution. But no, no school choice. School choice is bad! The hypocrisy of gov’t astounds me!

  18. Get a grip! says:

    Who educated the parents? Yes, teachers educated them in reading, writing, and arithmetic. But a parent is a child’s first teacher, and most of them SUCK at it! Parents are not teaching their children to respect authority. Bottom line, that’s the biggest problem. I’ve had students tell me, “My mama says I don’t have to do what white folks say.” I lost count of how many times I’ve heard, “You’re not my mama. Don’t tell me what to do.” And then I’ve heard parents cussing at teachers! Yes, Liana, PARENTS can behave inappropriately, too, and the children learn from their example.

    Our school system does NOT have to take responsibility for the lack of morals of some students. Our schools are getting too far away from academics because parents aren’t doing THEIR job in raising their kids.

  19. ??? says:

    Parents dump their kid into the school system with no discipline at home and think it’s part of the school’s problem to straighten these kids out. The actions they take that require a taser should be a direct refletion of their family and their parents.. Don’t put the burden of baby sitting your kids on the school system.. Those of you who do not agree are as guilty as the kid that get tased..

  20. Lin says:

    Liana G
    Don’t really disagree with what you said.
    Choice would have to be a good thing — but wouldn’t all parents chose to send their children to “good” schools, usually smaller schools? The more Govt agencies touch our money, the less comes back to the students — buI I question what our School Board is doing with the money we give them. Shorten the school day, give raises, now tell deputies what they can carry to protect everyone? Scores dropping vs other states, other countries. Don’t have all the answers, but neither do the people we PAY to educate our kids.

  21. mara says:

    It looks to me like there is a reason that some parents are not teaching their children to respect authority–because the parents don’t respect authority themselves.

    That being said, I don’t believe that has much to do with whether or not it should take Tasers to subdue our *children* in *our schools*. Something in this area has seriously lost its sense of civic respect, that our policemen feel they must protect themselves from some of these young people to *such* a degree.

    I say again, it is unbelievable that this conversation is even taking place.

  22. Walk a mile in my shoes says:

    Lin, I’d love for you to come spend a day in my classroom and then say I’m not earning my PAY to educate students. It’s hilarious to me that people who probably haven’t set foot in a classroom since they left the 12th grade, if they made it that far, can comment on what they think teachers are and aren’t doing. Did you go to any school board meetings last year to make suggestions on how YOU thought they could solve the budget crisis?

  23. Liana G says:

    An individual spends 1/3 of their waking hours in school. And those hours are the formative and most crucial years of the person’s life. In today’s society, we have many households where both parents work, some by choice and some because they have to. Most children in our society are in some sort of school from the time they were babies. Parents drop them off at 7am and pick them up by 6pm. And this is typically the case until middle school with before and after care.

    Schools have to take responsibility for teaching and reinforcing positive and appropriate behavior since children typically exhibit these behavior in a social setting among friends/peers, and which is usually at school. And what they learn at school they take home too.

    How can we expect a parent to teach their kids appropriate behavior when all this social interaction is taking place at school? “Jonny took my toy, Jonny called me a bad word, Jonny hit me, Jonny stole my snack, Jonny won’t share, Jonny won’t play with me, Jonny did this, Jonny did that, and on and on it goes.” Are parents superheros? Do we seriously expect them to be both in the school when all this is going on and be at work at the same time?

    For those of you who feel this way, please advocate for school choice. Give parents the power to choose. Unlike parents, teachers get to choose whether they want to teach or not, and they also get to choose whether they want to teach in a public or private institution. All the more reasons for teachers to advocate for school choice. Believe me many of us parents do not want our kids in public schools either. Just look at what is happening around the country:-

    “As of August 2011, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have policies that support private school choice:

    •Nine states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—offer education tax credits to encourage businesses and individuals to make donations to organizations that provide tuition scholarships to students to attend private school.

    •Nine states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs: Colorado (Douglas County), Florida (special needs), Georgia (special needs), Indiana, Louisiana (New Orleans and special needs), Ohio (Cleveland, Ed Choice, special needs, and Autism scholarships), Oklahoma (special needs), Utah (special needs), Wisconsin (Milwaukee and Racine County), and Washington, D.C.

    •Five states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota—offer tax deductions to reduce their state income-tax liabilities by taking deductions on education-related expenses, including private-school tuition.

    A majority of states offer some form of public school choice:

    •Forty-six states have policies that permit public-school choice.

    •Forty states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws that allow the creation of charter schools—public schools that are free from many of the regulations imposed on traditional public schools, but are held accountable to the same achievement measures as their traditional counterparts. This allows charter schools to be more flexible and innovative than traditional public schools.”

  24. Elana Lee says:

    I know a young man who went through the police academy, aced the written exam, scored right at 100% on the firing range for precision but failed to receive his certification. He was very good at shooting but he’d shot the wrong target. It sounds to me like that’s what’s happening here. Many of the commenters are firing away at some serious social issues, but the skill of the marksman is moot if he’s aiming at the wrong target.

  25. Jim Guines says:

    I hope the board members are looking at the big picture. This has been called the “decade of the charter school choice tide”. A vote to allow tasers in the schools can be easily seen by tthe public that regular schools are unsafe. Think about what choice you would make for your own kid, a safe school. If board members think that regular public schools are unsafe, what do you think the public would conclude?

  26. Lin says:

    Walk a mile —

    Did you read my posts? I was talking about the low scores and the School Board’s actions which in my opinion are NOT in the best interests of our children. How can less time in school help the students? And how can paying the employees more help the students? I attend as many meetings as I can. My job right now is taking care of 2 children – one 6 weeks old and one 3-1/2 years old so that their parents can work 2 jobs each. I don’t need to be in YOUR classroom to be knowledgeable about what is going on. By the way, my husband is an educator.

  27. Lin says:

    OK Walk a Mile, you asked for ideas,

    Discipline is important but it is not as simple as Teachers good, parents bad. Bad parents can have good kids & good parents can have bad kids. When the children leave the nest all sorts of things influence them — some even inside the schools, good & bad. Neither does a narrow-minded blame the non-teacher attitude. I have said wonderful things about teachers on other threads but they need to get real about salaries & benefits and the stress of money pressures on other taxpayer families (yes, I know teachers pay taxes too).

    Compare the salaries & benefits with the private sector employees — compare working conditions too.

    Ideas that I think have merit

    John Fischer spoke at a candidate forum b4 election about schools for other-than-college headed students like the vocational schools in the area I grew up in, trade schools, arts schools, aeronautical schools, etc. Great idea to motivate some students. I don’t understand why we are getting a Russian language school.

    FCAT’s not valuable IMO — consider the Regents type system as in NY with tests at the END of the school year after a subject has been completed

    Accountability for employees and teachers other than how long they are in the profession. No tenure. Merit based pay – FEA is suing saying Merit pay is unconstitutional under collective bargaining.
    Think about how silly that is — but do pay better teachers more but not just because they have more time in or have a higher degree, Professionals of all kinds get degrees to better their knowledge or because it is required in their profession,

    If money (salary & benefit) cuts need to be made, consider cuts at the top, not the bottom of the employees especially administration, don’t take from the kids in programs and class time. 1:30 dismissal is 1/2 day schooling IMO

    And school employees (including the School Board) need to have more “let’s fix this together” attitudes.
    Parents can try to work on what may be a problem at home but it is still the teachers that are in the classroom charged with teaching. There is still a problem in our classrooms.

  28. Jim Guines says:

    Please see the questions I ask on my Facebook about where this concern cames from and if or not people feel safe in the schools or if they need protection in the schools.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Many children are out of control because there is NO control. Parents can’t discipline their children without fear of being jailed, and most people seem to get a slap on the hand for crimes they commit, and the children of today know this. We hear all the times at how the jails are full. Kids today know there are little to no consequences for bad behavior. Kids know their parents hands are tied, they know the teachers hands are tied, therefore they say “I can do what I want”. The moral fabric of our country is diminished. Read it and believe it (the Holy Bible) spare the rod, and spoil the child. Children of today are spoiled rotten!

  30. Liana G says:

    When my oldest daughter was born, I gave up my very nice job to become a stay at home mom. Six months later I decided to get a job at a child care center (6am – 3pm) to supplement our income yet be able to see and spend time with her while at work. During the first week every time I would pass by her room and she saw me her face would lit up in this big smile which would soon turn into tears when she realized I wasn’t coming for her. Even though I knew this would happen, I couldn’t resist not passing by to steal a peek. At other times, the choice wasn’t mine.

    The second / third week, she was beginning to not cry as much when she saw me, at times she would just smile but no tears. This was the most devastating for me. I felt like a monster because I was pushing this sweet little child away from me. I quit at the end of that week, and have not worked until my other two kids that followed were in the 4th grade. And it was in the school environment but only for a year ( my conscience wouldn’t let me serve the kids trice reheated food and cooked food sitting in a warming oven two hours before serving.)

    I know that I am fortunate to be able to have this choice; my husband takes pride in reminding me too! But what I went through is no different than what many parents have to endure long term, and for some it’s not a matter of choice. I saw it on their faces every time they had to untangle themselves from tiny hands and tear drenched faces. I saw their caring when they complained about kool aid instead of juice being served for breakfast, when they would question every little mark and scrape, when they took the time to ask about their child’s day. Parents do care. And for those that we say don’t, why is that?

  31. Walk a mile says:

    Yes, Liana, I did read your posts, especially the one where you were talking about how the people we PAY to educate our children don’t have the answers. I agree with you that some of the cuts the SCHOOL BOARD made were not in the best interests of the children. But those school board members are not the ones we PAY to educate our children. That would be the teachers, many of whom made suggestions for cuts that would not affect the students. And I’m sorry that you don’t feel that teachers deserve a raise, even though the cost of everything is going up, and even though I’m doing WAAAAAAAAY more work now than I did 20 years ago when I first started teaching. I bring work home almost every night and go in on Sunday, too, so I feel like I deserve a little bit more to compensate for the WAY more extra work that I’m doing. And, by the way, I’m making about $120 LESS a month now since I got my raise, with the money that Lord Voldemort has decided should come out of our pay and the increased cost of insurance.

    And if you think that caring for 2 children in your home compares in ANY way to what I do with 18 children on a daily basis, you’re truly demented. You said your husband is an educator. With the “knowledge” you (think you) have, I doubt that he is a public school educator. Otherwise, it would be difficult for you to stay at home to raise your children.

  32. Jon Hardison says:

    Yowza! Well, not sure how this conversation got so scrambled and ‘blamey’. :-)
    My kids, which I have, are my responsibility. The school’s obligation is simply to maintain an environment suitable for teaching, and then to teach in it. If my child is acting an ass, and makes it more difficult for the school to carry out its obligations, they need to call me and let me deal with it. That’s it! There’s no magic involved here.

    The fault sits squarely on the student. The responsibility for dealing with that fault falls to the parent. And yes, the schools’ failure to maintain an ‘educationally friendly’ environment falls to the school administration, teachers, school board, etc.

    I have no expectation that a school can teach my children to be human, nor do I expect them to try. In fact… DON’T! I’ll do my job, you do yours, and that’s that. All this blaming everyone for everything is just crazy.

    As to the subject of the article, if Police Officers are needed in schools, they need to be able to protect themselves. After all, we’re saying they need to be there for a reason, right? If they don’t need to be there, they shouldn’t be, but I think we’re setting a very strange double standard. “We don’t feel safe without you here, but we also don’t feel safe with you here, so we’re going to ask you to leave all your ‘cop toys’ outside, thank you”???

    Why don’t we start by asking if Police Officers need to be in the buildings. If they do, we have our answer. “Police Officer Package includes: Officer, uniform, badge, handcuffs, gun, taser, and utility belt. Not for children under the age of 8 as package contents may be hazardous.”

    Here’s my thinking on the matter:
    a) A Sheriff’s Deputy walks into a Pizza place for a slice at lunch… he has on his sidearm. We don’t ask him to take it off while he’s on break, and when we’re in the Pizza place with him or her, we’re probably not freaked out that they’re there.

    b) There are schmucks all over the place. They come in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes they come in uniform. We took Tasers out of schools because one officer used one on a child in a situation where one probably shouldn’t have been used. Funny thing: ALL THE OTHER OFFICERS HADN’T USED ONE INAPPROPRIATELY, but they lost access to a very powerful tool. Furthermore, what’s the punishment for an officer that discharges their weapon when it shouldn’t be? Particularly in a school. What I’m saying is that discipline is the solution, but not just with our kids. Officers that fire their weapons against policy or guidelines also need to know that there will be serious repercussions for that action, and I mean serious!

    c) Guidelines, guidelines, guidelines: We need to be smart about these situations. We have guidelines for kids in schools when the fire alarm goes off. We have policies and guidelines for when a school goes into lock down. As I understand it, we still have NO guidelines for what our kids should do when there’s a fight.

    If it were me, I would institute a rule that required all children to clear the area around a fight, going into the nearest classroom, or into the hall if the situation is taking place in a classroom. If the area isn’t cleared, every student that remains is considered ‘involved’ in the incident. This would keep everyone safe and generally give officers room to work. Plus, kids are far less likely to resist or act out without an audience.

    All this said, I agree that we should be concerned about misuse of tasers. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Officers that use them inappropriately in schools should face termination and jail time, but I’m of the mind, after seeing what happened, that they should have them. It would seem they need them, at least until such time as the Officers themselves are NOT needed.

    For the record: My wife disagrees with me, and I still respect all of your opinions on the matter. :-)

  33. Lin says:

    Walk a Mile,
    I am the one who addressed you (Lin). I am the one who is helping to raise my 2 GRANDCHILDREN while her parents work. And boy is it hard for them. They also take work home and work on Sundays. And if you read the paper today, you know that income for lots of people is down. Lots of people have increased costs for benefits. Yes, I do consider myself lucky but not because of what my husband does — lucky to help raise these great kids. I mentioned how I need to spend my days in answer to your comment about attending meetings not to compare what I do to what a classroom teacher does. Reread my comments.

    I, also could say you should “walk a mile” in my shoes. You have no idea what my life has been like or what I know or don’t know. Sometimes teachers deserve raises, sometimes not. But the School Board IS ALSO PAID in case YOUR knowledge doesn’t extend that far. I hope your attitudes aren’t brought into your classroom.

  34. Walk a mile says:

    Sorry for the mistake in the origination of the post. But I stand by my belief that you have no idea what goes on in a public school classroom. Of course I know that the school board is also paid. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. But your comment was about the people who EDUCATE. The board members are not EDUCATORS. But maybe YOUR knowledge doesn’t extend that far, and perhaps you should re-read your own posts.

  35. Liana G says:

    Thank you Lin – In addition to her attitude, I will also add that I dearly hope her faculties are not as deficient in the classroom. Please dear god I hope she is not one of my kids teachers! And what makes it even worse is that she has tenure! Oh the lives I know she has negatively impacted!

  36. mara says:

    You heard the man–the blame game needs to stop. It’s useless and it detracts from the point of the discussion at hand:

    Why do our policemen fear our students so much that they feel the need to carry a fifty-thousand-volt weapon on their person every time they enter a public school?

  37. concern citizen says:

    As a parent of children in the school system also a graduate of F.P.C. I have seen my share of problems. The question is do we send our kids to boot camp and teach them early how to think like criminals or do they go to school and learn such as i did. Don’t get me wrong i was not an angel in school and i had that board put to my bottom a few times but when they were done they sent me back to class with the stinging bottom that reminded me what i was there for (to learn) and i continued to get my education. We can not let the goverment take control of our children. As far as Ms Dickinson (who was the school nurse and knows the danger of tasing) i am really surprised, her children were there with me and she would have never consider a taser at the schools at that time. Before everyone come to a conclusion place your kids at the schools, and yes they could be safer but they also could be that one mistake that could cost them there life. Are you really willing to sacrafice your child? I am not.

  38. dontbesoparanoid says:

    Two schools on lock down today due to an armed burglary/shooting with suspects on the run(who were eventually caught) and some of you want to take away some tools from the protectors on the inside?

  39. Maryann Moreira says:

    I have a son with autism, who also has seizures. If a deputy who does not know how to handle an ASD child were to usea taser on him it could kill him. THEN WHAT????
    We need to address there us on Special Need Students before anything else!!

  40. Think About it says:

    Really?!?! I think people aren’t thinking about this in the right way. If Law Enforcement Officers and School Resource Officer are armed with Taser ECD devices it is just ANOTHER less lethal tool to be utilized at the discretion of the Law Enforcement Officer. The Taser has become standard on patrol officers duty belts and a valuable tool utilized almost every day. It has already been determined in a huge majority of districts, in all states that the presence of police are necessary in schools. As one person states:

    “Why do our policemen fear our students so much that they feel the need to carry a fifty-thousand-volt weapon on their person every time they enter a public school? ”

    Well let me answer that. I think there would be a lot more controversy if Law Enforcement Officers were forced to interject in situations with just their fists. I can see it now “Cop beats down student in simple school yard fight.” This proposal is not stating or even close to stating that School Resource Officers will be able to utilize a Taser on people when ever they want, or even use it to start “threatening kids.” Law Enforcement Officers will still be responsible for justifying the use of force that they deemed necessary for the situation.

    I think if people take the time to step back and analyze the situation then they will agree that giving someone a tool that could potentially save a life or prevent serious injury is worth it. I encourage all of you to not necessarily listen to me but do your own research on the situation. Despite what biased individuals may argue a Taser ECD has never caused death to any individual, in fact it has prevented death in several situations that would have led to it.

    Taser has a running number count on their website that mathematically calculates the total lives that the Taser ECD has saved:

    Thank you all for the time.

  41. FlaglerLive says:

    dontbesoparanoid, the comment you referred to was indeed unacceptable and shouldn’t have been approved. It’s been removed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  42. Brian says:

    I was a Deputy in a middle school for 3 years. I carried a gun, handcuffs, expandable baton, pepper spray, TASER and police radio. I broke up gang fights almost every day. I never had to use my TASER , baton or gun on the children. I did have to use the TASER on an adult who ran from a patrol Deputy on a nearby traffic stop. The man came onto campus and threatened the safety of the students and faculty. If a student were placing another person’s life in danger through violence, I would TASER that student as an alternative to placing a bullet in their body. I have TASERed countless criminals during my career, and not one has had any adverse effects. I have also been TASERed and pepper sprayed. I would choose being TASERed anytime over pepper spray.

  43. w.ryan says:

    I am a retired NYPD cop. Worked in “A” houses for six years until I got to One Police Plaza. I worked in Manhattan North (Harlem, Washington Heights) I too had numerous run-ins with violent and life threatening situations. I worked gun runs, riots and broke up street fights and handled many domestic disputes. Averaged 20 -30 jobs(calls) a night. Subdued young knuckleheads and then lectured them as I waited for their parents to come in to the station house. Most of these knuckle heads stayed out of trouble afterward. Never had a taser and didn’t need one. If we had a EDP( emotionally disturbed person) we had ESU respond to the we had the situation contained. The nature of policing has changed. They are more concerned with the new gadgets and out with logical and practical approaches to policing. I can’t speak for Sheriff Fleming about his approach. I respect him especially for the fact that he wants best for his Deps. But the science of policing is constantly being rearranged. Being a part of the community works (reduction in crime in NY and other cities). Apperson is personable but this was a wild card situation. I had a lot of injuries but getting a little scuffed up subduing a perp is part of the job. But safety is always first. coming home alive was the focus. I just don’t know how the Taser could have been deployed in this situation we view above. It is a perimeter reliant weapon which in this case would still have been holstered at the first initial contact. There was no way to determine what this student was going to do. This was a wild card reaction to Cpl Apperson. To say that the use of this one weapon can be brought about as a result of one skirmish in countless encounters over the coarse of years is a false and In particular in using this incident as a reason why. We use culpable mental state to assess the level of commitment to a criminals actions but there must be intent by any perpetrator. The same applies to the use of a taser to launch this weapon. As for what I’ve realized with my kids in school in Flagler I am certainly concerned that this taser issue is a recipe for disaster especially with Deputy Grant as a SRO. He has been a cause for concern for many parents both Black or White. Not knowing the difference between sexual harassment and sexual abuse is pretty scary especially when he has the power to arrest. If there are other SRO’s like him I have grave concerns. Schools are not the streets and shouldn’t be treated as such.

  44. dontbesoparanoid says:

    so w. ryan, what you are saying is you have absolutely no experience with a taser…

  45. Thinkforyourself says:

    W. Ryan your comments are right on the mark! dontbesoparanoid you completely missed his point!

  46. Pamela C. says:

    I for one would rather see a child tased than shot. Unfortunately in todays society it is a grim reality that children are taking knives and guns to school and have zero respect for anyone. An officer should not have to be physically abused number one as they put their life on the line for all of us and they should have an alternative to shooting. And as many of these comments state which I totally agree with is a childs aggression is from lack of parenting at home. So if you feel that your child may be tased better step up the parenting.

  47. Anne-Marie says:

    Tasers, really? Bring back corporal punishment. Encourage parents to actually discipline their children. A swat across the backside or a smack across the face from a loving hand would have a sobering effect on these disrespectful punks. Tasers are for criminals. Discipline is a preventive measure that when done correctly instills proper ethics & values in children that they take with them for life.

  48. W.Ryan says:

    The sworn duty of a Police Officer is to protect life and property. Furthermore, the reality as we have the facts in this numbers run world is that the incidents of children bringing weapons to school is very small. I wish people would speak to the facts and not make statements they cannot support. If the fear of kids bringing weapons to school was that severe then we should have metal detectors in schools, not tasers. I have experience with tasers as stated above. dontbesoparanoid says, Don’t be so quick to put me down to bolster a point that serves no purpose. I worked in precincts with homicide rates over 100 in the years I’d been there( 032pct 1 mile long and less than a mile wide). Shootings were common and EDP’s were a common place. I did police work!!! The use and deployment is a no-brainer. I don’t have to shoot myself with one to know. I do know you don’t need one to police!!!

    This is about safety in the sanctity of schools and tasers bring the unwarranted threat of death to a child who we must protect. There is so much fear mongering.

  49. grateful mom says:


    As you so clearly stated you were not an SRD and handling street thugs isn’t even comparable to the environment inside a high school where over 2500 students and faculty are gathered with the expectation of getting an education and being safe. I would like to point out, as a matter of record, that this article is about tasers in schools, not about any specific deputy.

    However, you couldn’t be more wrong about Deputy Grant and the excellent job he does keeping FPC safe from thugs and the like. I have witnessed first hand how the students respond positively to Deputy Grant as they go to him with their problems of all kinds. He gives much needed advice, support and encouragement to all students – both black and white. If a student has been on the other end of the spectrum and has been arrested I’m sure it was exactly what was needed. He goes way above and beyond to reach all the students in FPC but will never allow disruptive students to take over and disrupt the education that is happening there. No matter who they are or who their parents are. He should be commended for that, as it is rare these days. FPC is extremely fortunate to have him there.
    For once, why don’t you try to be part of the solution instead of making the problem bigger than it is. Deputy Grant has the most training of any SRD and they could all learn a lesson from him about how to work with juveniles.

    It is careless and irresponsible to think that any SRD would use a taser unless it was absolutely necessary and no other means were available. School safety, of all the students and the adults, is their first priority.
    This isn’t the place to attack Deputy Grant because of your petty feelings.

  50. Jennifer says:

    Yea why don’t we taser the kids this will make them smarter. Some kid is going to get tasered and die because of some unknown heart condition or something, This is stupid. The county needs so much more money everyone is arresting kids for minor things that you do as a kid so they can to make more money. Back in the old days you got suspended for fighting and they paddled your rear. Not to mention the boys who fought became the best of friends afterward, Not arrested and tasered. What is wrong with everyone. Took god out of school now look!

  51. Jim Guines says:

    It is a very sad situation that some of the school board members are so inarticulate that the members get even policy statements wrong because they do not understand each other.

  52. former FPC student says:

    Mr. Ryan,

    I recently graduated from FPCHS and have to say you are completely off base with your remarks about Deputy Grant. He is one of the only people there that is always approachable and ready to listen, to counsel, console or, at times, gently reprimand, any of the students – of every color. He laughs and jokes and has conversations with all of us. He doesn’t exclude anyone – from the jocks to the geeks to the goths and everyone in between. We were all aware of what his expectations were and what the consequences were if we got out of line. What else could any teenager ask for? Doesn’t everyone fare better when boundaries are clear and expectations are high for everyone. He has the utmost respect from the students because he treats us like the individuals that we are and encourages us the always reach farther than we think we can reach. After he reminded us, with a smile, of a rule it would only take a look from him to help some kids remember to pull their pants up or take off their cap or show their id, among other stuff. And we all felt much safer when he was there because he wasn’t ever going to let the thugs or drug dealers or just plain bad kids take over our school like it was before he came. What a great feeling that was to us that wanted our school to be the best it could be.

    Have you ever had the opportunity to hear him speak? If you haven’t you should. HIs speech on 9/11 a few years ago will continue to be one of my best memories of high school. He truly is an inspiration!

    He makes FPC a better place to be every single day. As far as your comment about schools not being the streets, have you considered that it isn’t like the streets because of the hard work of Deputy Grant and others like him. What would the schools be if he wasn’t there? In my opinion, it would be exactly like the streets.

    FPC is fortunate to have him.

  53. Helene says:

    Did anyone notice how crowded that section of the hallway is during the changing of classes?! I would be scared to death for my child if an officer pulled out a taser and attempted to shoot across this crowd with all the chaos going on! From the vantage point of the video, it does not look like the officer would have even had a chance to pull out his “pepper spray” or “night stick” for that matter – never mind a taser! It looked like it all happened so fast that only brute force and old fashioned self defense techniques could have helped the officer. As a parent who has been active in our schools for the past 12 years, I can vouch that these incidents happen in a split second and all hell brakes out and then it is over just as fast. Not escalating the the offense is probably most prudent.

    And to those who posted that the schools should be responsible for teaching the children good behavior, I say NO WAY! That is completely the parents job and that is precisely what everyone in the school district tippy toes around. I sent my children to school to get an education and not to sit in a classroom while a teacher has to discipline and control disruptive students. If a student disrupts a class, they should be thrown out – period, end of story. Call the parents up and say come pick up your child and they can return only when they are able to behave, control themselves and respect the teacher as well as the other student’s right to learn!

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