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ACLU: School officers need to holster stun guns

Posted February 25, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The American Civil Liberties Union wants Cumberland County authorities to curb their use of stun guns in schools after the weapons were used twice on students in the last week.

Sheriff's deputies have used stun guns on eight Cumberland County students in the last six months. Most recently, school resource officers used stun guns to subdue a student at E.E. Smith High School who had assaulted an assistant principal and on a student at Ramsey Street High School who was involved in a fight.

Stun gun, Taser Group says stun guns used too often in schools

The Ramsey Street High student had to have the prongs from the stun gun surgically removed, his father said, but authorities said the stun guns haven't injured any other students in the incidents since August.

Rebecca Headen, an attorney for the state chapter of the ACLU, said deputies are too quick to draw their stun guns and said Cumberland County needs to adopt a tougher standard for using them on students.

"This is a dangerous weapon that can hurt and even kill someone. It should be used as a last resort and not a disciplinary tool," Headen said.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office already has a strict policy on using stun guns, spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said. Deputies cannot use the weapons on children under age 8, elderly people or pregnant women, and they can use them only after warning a student at least twice, she said.

Deputies began using stun guns more than a year ago, and many resource officers in other school districts across North Carolina carry the weapons.

“They have seconds to make that decision. They are trained to make the right decision, and we feel that they have in all of these cases,” Tanna said. "These persons who were (stunned) were told twice to cease and desist, and they did not. They were combative."

Seventy-First High School Principal Alton Miller said a student who was stunned last April was argumentative and aggressive before the school resource officer fired his stun gun and brought the student to his knees.

"Any time that they use a Taser, you don't like it because it's a show of force," Miller said.

He said he and the resource officer at Seventy-First High always try to defuse a situation first by communication, but sometimes that's not enough.

“If he and I are together and walking among students (and) we feel something’s going to happen, (we ask ourselves), 'Do we pull it out or not?'” he said. “Sometimes, it can actually agitate a situation.”

51 Comments

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  • didisaythat Feb 26, 2009

    I think everything has been said in the posts, except for one thing. The lady that said the Tazer should be the last resort. You have forgotten what the last resort is and that is two rounds to center mass.

  • aintbackingdwn Feb 26, 2009

    Does that mean we can bring back prayer intead?

  • james27613 Feb 26, 2009

    No problem, let the officers use OC spray, if that don't work,
    cap em in the rear end with the rubber bullets.

  • Bob3425 Feb 26, 2009

    The American Civil Liberties Union need to start policing the school. Individual that do not obey law enforcement officers should expect bad thing to happen to them.

  • Theseus Feb 26, 2009

    Atta boy, ACLU!!! Keep up the effort for more chaos in our school systems in particular and in the wider culture.

  • godshelper Feb 26, 2009

    ACLU. Go hide in a corner somewhere, we don't care about your opinion amd what you think. Where were your liberal views in Columbine. Had your rather officers shoot Little Sally and Tom or just shock'em. cause I know your kids are not angels I have been in those schools and I know that the majority of parents are not teacvhing manners and behavior in the home. The police and school administrators are teaching it at school. teach your kid to behave and then he/she won't have to "RIDE THE LIGHTNING"

  • 19tarheel75 Feb 26, 2009

    The A-gainst C-ommon L-iberties and S-ense......that is what the ACLU stands for. Anything that makes common sense such as discipline in schools and the right of teachers and administrators to be free from assaults from students. Perhaps the ACLU should go to Afghanistan and teach the Taliban!

  • thepeopleschamp Feb 26, 2009

    I have worked in a high school. I have never seen an ACLU rep trying to take control of someone or a situation that was out of control. Stay in your own element ACLU, you have no idea what you are talking about. Take some of these hoodlums home to live with you and let us know how that turns out.

  • kal Feb 26, 2009

    If they can get the students to behave as they are expected-we wouldn;t be having this blog!!!!!

  • emtp2k Feb 25, 2009

    I agree with the ACLU on one thing. Holster the taser. Pull the firearm and let the cops shoot them. It will probably save us a lot of tax dollars arresting and convicting them when the kids get to be adults. If the police tell them to stop then stop, follow his commands and there won't be any trouble. The kids bring about the problems by ignoring authority.

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