By Julian Reynoso, News Reporter
According to the New York Times, in September, Tauris Sledge — a student at East Ridge High School in Tennessee — was arrested by armed officers who were hired to prevent gun violence because they were “responding to student misbehavior.”
The officers who are appointed to this job are known as School Resource Officers (SROs). Their assigned job is to protect the school from violations of the law and incidents that may put others’ safety at harm. In light of this, the officers arguably breached the extent of their duties in the case of Sledge.
According to the video provided by the New York Times, Sledge said he was not feeling well enough for gym class and sat out, but when he saw his friends were playing basketball, he got up and joined them. The gym teacher tried talking to the student and then decided to alert a nearby SRO to help with the situation. Once the SRO arrived, he began talking with the student and then slammed him into one of the bleachers. In the officer’s attempt to detain the student, he pepper sprayed him, handcuffed him and then put him in the backseat of his car. All of this stemmed from his earlier sitting out of gym class.
While this is an uncommon occurrence, some say that it is impossible to ignore that the Sledge is African American. In light of increased attention toward racial profiling reports over the last few years, as well as the very publicized incident involving the death of Tyre Nichols last week, to make a connection between race and the manner in which Sledge was arrested is inevitable for many. The officers went beyond their job duties, some say, and used excessive force on the high school student, even though the original, prompting incident did not lie within the scope of what they are supposed to defend against.
Additionally, the possibility exists that situations like these will rise as schools across the country seek to tighten security. As school shootings have dominated the headlines in recent years, so too have calls for higher levels of security in schools, including having armed personnel in school. Critics of those armed personnel proposals have cited possibilities of situations like the one regarding Sledge as reasons to oppose such a proposal.