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Pressure Produces Diamonds

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

ELK GROVE (CBS13) Shirin Rajaee — The Elk Grove Unified School District coming under fire yet again over allegations of excessive force and inappropriate conduct by school resource officers.

This comes at a time when the district is facing a number of issues dealing with race and discrimination against its black student population. Parents and activists addressed the school board about the allegations Tuesday evening.

“He lifted my son out of the seat, threw him across the vice principal’s desk, with the vice principal present and the vice principal confirming that he did this and handcuffed him. Nothing was done,” said parent Michelle Murphy.

She addressed the Elk Grove school board on May 15 about an incident from last October concerning her son’s interaction with a school resource officer at Consumnes Oaks High School.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, more stories were shared about how some school resource officers handle issues with students.

“What you’re seeing is incident, after incident after incident. Any time you have a deputy on campus that feels comfortable enough to throw a child across the desk of an administrator, yes, that’s excessive force,” Lorreen Pryor, president of Black Youth Leadership Project.

“I need to know how many times an SRO can have a complaint lodged against them before they’re relieved of their duties,” said Pryor.

“I’m not gonna say all SRO’s don’t know their boundaries or don’t know how to partner with families, but there are too many that don’t and too many who are allowed to continue working even though there have been case after case after case,” said Angela Jemmott, a mother who says her son also experienced mistreatment from a resource officer.

“We do conduct a thorough investigation whether it’s use of force or other behavior,” said Sgt. Shaun Hampton with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

He says the department investigates each incident, but reject the accusation by some parents that their officers target black male students.

“Without question, there is no targeting of African-Americans going on with our school resource officers. If we do have complaints, those types of complaints are taken very seriously,” said Sgt Hampton.

The Elk Grove Unified School District is now rolling out new policies outlining the specific roles staff will play to defuse situations first, and the expectation from law enforcement officers.

“When they’re talking to us in board meetings, we are listening. And I think the work that’s gone into this policy is an answer to several of concerns,” said district spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton. “We are working together to create a safe and welcoming place for everyone. First, we’re setting expectations, then giving guidance then we will have tools for training for staff and law enforcement,” said Pinkerton.

“We’ll be working with school resource officers on implicit bias training, principled policing, so when it comes to equitable needs, they are trained as well,” she said.

But some parents say the district’s lack of swift response to these matters, doesn’t make them optimistic.

“I know I have to continue in this fight,” said Jemmott.

The policy still needs approval from the board.

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