Tom Fields, a South Carolina school resource officer, was recently fired for dragging a high school girl out of her desk and slamming her to the ground, after a teacher called him in to take care of a student who was disrupting class. The incident received national attention with outcries focusing on police brutality, with an emphasis on force used in schools by resource officers such as Fields. You would think that fellow classmates and students of Spring Valley High School would be thankful to have this violent presence removed from their campus, but they instead rallied earlier this week in order to rehire Fields and bring him back to campus. Although Fields has been portrayed by the media as violent and out of line, many students protested his firing and wore t-shirts with the slogan #bringbackfields. Many of them have chosen to speak out against his firing, stating that he was a great guy who protected them and always joked around with students.
According to CNN, the student Fields eventually slammed to the floor was being noncompliant and disrespectful towards the deputy, but does that give him the right to assault her? Where are the boundaries for that kind of behavior? I don’t think what he did was the right thing and Ifiring Fields was the correct decision. This high school student, no matter how insolent and disruptive she was being, did not deserve to be assaulted. After the incident, she suffered injuries to her face, neck, and arm. I think the officer definitely overstepped his boundaries when he dragged her out of her chair, especially because she wasn’t being violent. The disagreement escalated quickly in ways that it shouldn’t have, and it saddens me because every student should feel as if their school is a safe place. The student, already in foster care and fragile, is now devastated and emotionally traumatized by this attack. A school is supposed to be a place to grow and develop your education and this violent–and unnecessary–incident has tarnished that image.
Some suggest that this incident had to do with racism, but it’s unclear if there’s enough evidence for that. Considering that this was a case of a white officer abusing a young African American woman, one can’t help but wonder if the punishment was so severe because of the girl’s skin color. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has released a nationwide study that states black students are often punished more severely and more often than white students for the same mistakes. Deeper investigation may be required to truly bring the racial undertones to light. But an apparent issue is the sad reality of completely inappropriate police brutality. Since the development of cell phone videos and social media, our awareness of forceful police brutality has skyrocketed . It’s completely out of control, and it seems that some police officers feel the need to use brute strength in almost all situations, even when they’re against people that have been doing no physical harm. Yes, CNN states that she was rude and not compliant. But she wasn’t hurting anybody. So this officer, someone who is in a position of power, should not have taken such extreme measures to reprimand a student. Hopefully, this will serve as an example to all those who abuse their power, and that police officers must be held accountable for their actions.