How Fields Should Have Removed the Student
by Ethan Glover, Wed, Oct 28, 2015 - (Edited) Tue, Dec 26, 2017
Ben Fields lost his job after he threw a South Carolina student across a classroom for "disrespecting authority." This is good news. When an officer so blatantly abuses his power to bully the weak, he shouldn't be able to keep that power.
Yet, in the press conference announcing Fields' termination, Sheriff Leon Lott said, "The student was not allowing the teacher to teach and the students to learn. She was very disruptive, she was very disrespectful. ... She started this."
She started this? Fields was only fired to help 'public opinion' of the department. If neither Fields or Lott can understand how to better handle this situation, they are a part of the nationwide problem of police abuse. Firing Fields may be the right thing to do, but it hasn't really solved anything if the problem was never truly recognized to begin with.
Put yourself in the shoes of Officer Fields. You have a student using her phone in class, a teacher and vice principal asked her to leave, but she refuses.
Let's ignore the fact that this is just over a phone. We'll ignore the fact that there is always police ready to use force in schools for a moment. You're Ben Fields, as someone paid to solve disputes, how do you solve this situation?
Of course, you first ask the student politely, but we're assuming that's not working here. Do you next put her in a headlock, throw her on the ground, toss her to the front of the room, and put your knee in her spine, putting the girl in the hospital?
Wait a minute... that's not right, is it?
Solution Idea #1: Grab the desk and push her into the hallway.
This is an easy solution that would probably lead to a few giggles from the classroom. It would move the situation back down to the level of seriousness it deserves. A silly situation deserves a silly response.
Solution Idea #2: Inform the girl, "If you don't get up and leave, I will have to remove you by force." ...No answer from here. "OK, I'm going to grab your arms, I'm going to do my best not to hurt you. If you struggle or resist, I may not be able to control you enough to avoid injury. Do you understand?" ....No answer. "Alright, please don't do anything to make the situation worse."
Because the girl is just being stubborn and sitting in her seat, you don't have to go into action superhero mode. You don't have to chase anyone down. She's not violent. There are no weapons. All you have to do is pick her up and remove her from the property she's no longer welcome on.
I don't care if she screams and kicks. It's her right to do so. It's the officers job to take care of the situation without making it worse. He's bigger and allegedly better trained. He doesn't need to do anything more than pick her up. Even if that lead to a few bruises, he can suck it up.
With this in consideration, tell me again why it was the girls fault for what happened? She's in a public school, a teacher asked her to leave over something so minor as a cell phone. Now she has the vice principal telling her to leave. It escalates into a police officer showing up and using force.
We've all been in this students position. As a teenager, you got stubborn and did something like this. Chances are unless you are still of this age, there was no risk of physical harm. Your teacher (or parent, guardian, etc.) just played a game of patience with you until you got fed up and left or quit.
Why would anyone in their right mind deem this an appropriate response? Or blame it on the kid? It would have been the kids fault if she got embarrassed after getting pushed out of a classroom. Now it's a national issue thanks to one meatheads idea of solving the problem.
Like a child, Lott wants to point his finger and say, "She started this." Well, Fields ended it didn't he? Inappropriately and dangerously. What the student did or didn't do is of no more concern.
Contact information for the Richland County Sheriff Office:
5623 Two Notch Road, Columbia, South Carolina 29223
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