Sunday, November 18, 2007

School taser violence in Frederick, MD

taser lessonI can't recall the source of a quote I remember from the 1960's. “The first places in a free society that civil liberties are violated are prisons and public schools”. Tuscarora High School in Frederick, Maryland is proving that quotation true. The Frederick News- Post for today reports the following.

During a class change Nov. 8, student Dereck Holland saw his sister escorted to the school office by a cop. He didn't know she'd been in a fight and was headed to the office for discipline. He was worried and approached her, putting his arm around her. He never intended to prevent Cpl. Jody Maybush and a school administrator from taking her to the office, he said in an interview.

According to police reports he physically prevented the cop from escorting her to the office. Maybush threatened to tase him. Holland stopped hugging his sister and told the officer, "Do it." He did. The cop must have been itching to try the electroshock weapon out; he'd threatened to taser another Tuscarora student the day before he zapped Holland.

Once the weapon was discharged the law enforcement spin machine kicked into high gear to generate enough paperwork and official ruckus to cover the cop's behind. Maybush arrested Holland and hit him with a real grocery list of charges: disorderly conduct, failing to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing orderly school conduct and obstructing the performance/duties of an officer. Paperwork is Truth. Trumped- up charges help create the impression that the force used was “necessary and reasonable” instead of “twitchy and ill-considered.” Where's there's smoke, there's fire, right?

Maybush is still on duty. The department is defensive and unapologetic. "There's no information that indicates he did anything inappropriate," a sheriff's office spokeswoman said. An FOP attorney called Maybush's actions “heroic," saying "the subject took an aggressive stance...(He) was in a posture to strike the deputy." Shooting an unarmed student who has done nothing violent is appropriate and heroic in Frederick, MD.

Holland's mother wants Frederick County Public Schools to develop a policy to dictate when officers in schools should be able to use force. Marita Loose, spokeswoman for FCPS , said she doesn't know that the school system or Frederick County Board of Education can create such policies. How can this be? They've already created a policy that allows tasering kids, and she think that's just fine.

The PTA thinks tasering kids in school is fine, too. Janice Spiegel, president of the PTA Council of Frederick County, Inc., said she hasn't heard much parental rumbling about excessive police force in schools. "When it comes to this specific incident, we haven't talked about it; we haven't met because we haven't heard anything," Parents seemed content with a letter sent home from the school detailing the taser incident, she said.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe parents in Frederick just don't care.