I understand officials have lives of their own or may have pre-scheduled events, but notifying the community of your absence would be the respectful thing to do, especially when you claim to want to be transparent with the community.
Dozens of audience members gathered together to plan out a brighter future for Merced while across the hall an entire row of chairs reserved for city representatives sat vacant. Each of the seats was labeled with the name of a local city, police or sheriff’s department official who had been specifically invited to the event.
“We’d like to highlight how all local law enforcement officials were invited here tonight but none of them bothered to show,” said Vanessa Zaragoza, 15, a youth activist and master of ceremonies at the Live Free event.
So my question is, if law enforcement knows ECWs are too risky to use even in very controlled training circumstance, why the heck would they want to use it on unarmed citizens in uncontrolled street situations? The question I would put to [Police Chief ] Greg Suhr is, are you willing to use these on your own officers in controlled settings to show that they’re safe? If he’s telling the truth, he’s going to say, “No, we’re not going to do that.”
Bottom line: They’re not safe to use on unarmed people and they’re not safe for police to use against armed suspects.
In the wake of a video showing Columbia, South Carolina’s Officer Ben Fields apparently slamming and dragging a young black student at Spring Valley High School, the role of police officers in our schools has become the focus of nation-wide debate. Though Fields was fired, many are blaming the student for supposedly inciting the attack by not complying with teachers and administrators before Fields was called to the classroom, including Fields’ superior Sheriff Leon Lott who said the student “is responsible for initiating this action.”
We’Ced Youth Media took the incident as an opportunity to look at the issue locally. According to our city website, at the high school level Merced School Resource Officers (SRO’s) are meant to “maintain order on each of the campuses” and “identify ‘at risk’ juveniles and work with them to try to change their behavior.” Here, We’Ced reporters reflect on their experiences with SRO’s in the past and what they feel the role of SRO’s should be in our local schools.
Last month, representatives from Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities joined with Black, Latino, and Native American communities from all over the state to bring attention to this issue by calling for the passage of Assembly Bill 953, a bill that would increase law enforcement transparency and accountability.