Las Vegas, Nev. (FOX5) – Lawmakers with the Senate Education and Judiciary Committees have released a video of a Clark County Sheriff’s Department officer tackling a student to the ground outside Durango High School.
While the meeting was called to review CCSD police policies and procedures, specifics of the Durango High incident, including discussion of why officers approached the students in the first place, were limited.
“While we look at the event that brought us all here, we don’t want to ask questions about that event because it’s an ongoing investigation,” Senate President Roberta Lange said.
Members of parliament said that the trial was not a hearing, but the incident should be discussed publicly.
CCSD Police Chief Mike Blackie talked about the use of force policy, police training and the huge drop in student referrals to juvenile justice. The chief was a little surprised when a lawmaker asked what they could do to help the police.
“I was a policeman for a long time. “I’m not used to being asked how we can help you, not at all,” said the chief.
The chief added, “You throw me away when someone asks, ‘Hey, how can we help you?’ Because it’s not necessarily about that. People only want to talk to us when they have a problem or a concern.”
Some MPs praised the police officers, wondering how many incidents of school violence have been prevented, and said the officers were not thanked for their good work and criticized for mistakes.
“We have to do a lot of things. We are not perfect as a school system or as a police department, but I have confidence in our chief and our officers,” said CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara.
One of the Durango students seen in the video told FOX5 at the scene the day after the incident that he was just trying to record the encounter on his cell phone before it got locked up. A legislator asked CCSD police about public records officers.
“We emphasize the importance of allowing anyone, not just students, to record any police interaction from a safe distance. Officers at the scene are reminded and trained that if their investigation is obstructed or impeded at all by the person making the recording, which endangers the officer or any other students or the student making the recording or the person “to have a record at stake, to be so close to a police interaction that could result in the use of force, it hinders our investigation,” said CCSD Police Lt. Steve Hewitt.
However, several other speakers criticized CCSD police and its policies.
“As a classroom teacher, if I threw a kid down and put my knee on their back, I would be fired immediately,” said former CCSD special education teacher Chris Giunchigliani.
“Officers seem to be more comfortable using force than other methods. I think officers need to be trained in the ability to talk and deal with students when they act,” said Senator Dallas Harris.
CCSD police have not yet said why officers contacted the group of students in the first place, or why force was used. FOX5 has made numerous requests for an interview with Chief Blackeye. The board said it was inappropriate for the chief to comment on an active investigation.
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