Friday, December 07, 2007
When the goin' gets tuff, the tuff get cuffed
A week or so ago on the national news there was a story of a 10-year-old girl being taken out of school in handcuffs. Her mother was outraged, the child was upset, and the school was keeping mum, probably out of privacy concerns. The mom will probably sue the school district and police, but this wasn't an isolated incident, and I wonder how it ended up on the national news. Must've been a slow news day.
I turned to my wife and said, "I see children in handcuffs occasionally." Yesterday on my route, for instance. A small boy in cuffs was being led to a school district police car. The officer arresting him was at least 6'4", and the child was an average third or fourth grade kid. I've seen this scenario repeated at times over the years. I admit the first time I saw an elementary school child in restraints I was startled; I've seen several kids of junior high and high school age in handcuffs. Not so unexpected, there.
I won't find out why the child I saw yesterday was taken out in handcuffs, and I won't ask. The officer smiled and waved as I pulled away from my parking spot, and I returned his friendly gesture. Just another day in the life of a school district cop.
Our police officers have been through the state police academy, and have full police powers. We're the only school district in the state with such a police force, and they are busy 24 hours a day, protecting our buildings and students. I'm pretty sure it's policy to handcuff everyone being taken to a police car, even the elementary school kids.
Once I walked into a school and saw an officer holding a sixth grade boy from behind. The boy had a large kitchen knife in his hand. The officer had his arm around the boy's neck; he had the boy's arm extended fully to keep the knife away from himself and the child. The officer was squeezing the boy's wrist to make him relax his grip. The officer was twice the weight and height of the student and could have just thrown him to the floor and taken the knife away, but he was disarming the boy in a manner that would minimize the danger or damage to the child and himself. The boy dropped the knife and the officer got the boy's arm behind his back where he cuffed his hands together, all in a smooth motion. Throughout the whole situation, which took seconds, no sound was made by either the boy or the cop. You walk in on a situation like that and you wonder if you've been dropped into a movie. Nope, it's real. Life in a school district does have difficult moments like that, and you hope all of them turn out as well as the situation I saw. For the lady on the national news who was upset because her daughter was removed in handcuffs, it's just the facts, ma'am...that's life in a school district.
Here's a picture of Evangeline Lilly from the TV show, Lost. I stopped watching Lost midway through last season, when I thought it lost its way. I don't have any reason to show you this picture of Ms Lilly except that I really, really like looking at Evangeline Lilly.