School Is No Safe Haven For Kids In Baltimore
Mar. 3, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Baltimore City School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin has been placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced showing a school police officer slapping and kicking a young man at the Lake Clifton Eastern High School at the REACH! Partnership School in Baltimore.
The video shows the young man with his back pressed to the wall while the officer curses and slaps him three times in the face. The officer then kicks him and tells the young man to “get the fuck out of here.” Another officer watched the assault impassively.
The four second video, surreptitiously shot by an unidentified student holding a cellphone over the back of his shoulder, does not contain any footage of the events leading up to the assault or what happened afterwards. Notably, the offending officer appears to be armed in the video. According to local news reports, state patrol officers are permitted to carry weapons in school, but school-based officers do not enjoy this privilege.
City school officials claim they were informed of the incident by WJZ, a local CBS affiliate, and given a copy of the cellphone video by late afternoon. The school has not confirmed whether the young man was a student, but the unidentified student who shot the video told reporters that the victim was a classmate.
School spokeswoman Edie House Foster confirmed that the unnamed school police officer has also been put on administrative leave, and assured the public that the incident would be “vigorously” investigated by the school.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the assault “appalling,” and bemoaned the possibility that this incident could further erode the frayed relationship between local residents and the police:
Anytime there is a law enforcement officer with that level of authority that seems to be abusing that authority, it impacts all of us across the country… It certainly is not helpful as we work to build bridges of trust to see that level of mistreatment.
Baltimore police and its union immediately distanced themselves from the assault by pointing out that the unnamed officer is not a city police officer, but a member of the Baltimore City School Police Department (the two departments are run separately).
The Baltimore City School Police Department is no stranger to controversy itself. In fact, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund issued a statement a month ago demanding that the Department of Justice “expand its investigation of the Baltimore Police Department to include the city school police department,” arguing that, “there is evidence that the (school police department) has used force against students.”
In September, 2015, school police officer Lakisha Pulley pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree assault after she was caught on video using a baton on three students at Vanguard Collegiate Middle School.
DOJ verbally told the NAACP that it would investigate the relationship between the Baltimore City Police and the BSPF. However, according to the NAACP, “LDF has not yet received written DOJ confirmation of this commitment.” Now it has something else to add to the list.