Friday, October 09, 2009

"At some point, people in positions of power need to protect the public"

The video that surfaced recently of a school policeman assaulting a learning disabled teenager because his shirt wasn't tucked in has cost the officer his job. And for most observers that's the end of the story.

But that set of events exposes the dysfunction of the school system in general. Starting during the Reagan administration, educational reform consisted in the escalation of war rhetoric as a remedy of what was wrong with schools. With the fall of the iron curtain and the retirement of military personnel looking to dip into the public coffers yet again, school reform encouraged the introduction of police and military into the administration of schools - usually urban schools.

And so, the segregated school experiment was allowed to continue with a new and revitalized passion; urban schools could be regimented in such a way as to pacify the unruly masses attending those institutions with boot camp discipline, metal detectors, drug sniffing dogs, educational black-ops, and so on. You can never be too tough.

And just as the night follows the day, what America succeeded in creating was an ever more violent school environment. Tough became the petri dish for tougher and that self-fulfilling stupid loop continues unabated today.

But after 911, tough went exponential. The country became more forgiving of violence from law-enforcement to the extent that cover-ups for law-enforcers committing crimes are standard practice.

In Chicago, the intersection of rogue policeman being used in the most delicate institution played out.

You see, the policeman who assaulted the student had a history of violence. that violence s documented in this follow-up Chicago Tribune story; Dolton cop in beating case has troubling history.
A Dolton cop caught on camera allegedly breaking a 15-year-old special needs student's nose for failing to tuck in his shirt has a troubling history that includes killing a man in a case of disputed self-defense.

The officer is now in an Indiana jail on an unrelated rape charge.
The video in that link shows multiple school teachers or administrators who seem to accept such treatment of students akin to waiting for apiece of toast to pop. No one asks what is going on. No one calls 911. No one seems to care if the kid lives or dies.

None of this is surprising. There is no way for schools to know the quality of police officers being assigned to schools. The practice of police cover-up is so pervasive and accepted that in this case an officer with a profoundly violent incident in his past (shooting a man 24 times) and a rape allegation just weeks ago is allowed to treat a dress code violation as if the teen were an armed robber.

Yes, at some point people in positions of power need to protect the public. Who will watch the watchers and how do we keep sociopaths with badges under control?

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