NAACP reacts to killing of SC student with disablitiesOctober 16, 2009
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous statement on killing of South Carolina student with disabilities
The tragic situation that occurred at Carolina Forest High School in Horry County, South Carolina, is reflective of a deeply troubling trend of excessive use of force by school resource officers. The altercation left the young student, diagnosed with autism, in the morgue while the police officer was able to go home. There are serious questions that must be aggressively investigated: Was the officer trained in the techniques to work with individuals with autism, or mental illness? Did the officer use all available means to contain the situation without using deadly force? Should school resource officers be allowed to carry guns in schools?
While there are school incidents that require police attention, this raises the issue of where those officers should be placed. Most of the crime happens off school grounds and having armed officers inside the school increases the chance for these kinds of tragedies to occur.
There are many dedicated law enforcement officials who serve selflessly every day but may need better training on how to handle confrontations safely. The unfortunate incident in South Carolina underscores the urgency of implementing national standards on the use of force, training and monitoring practices so that law enforcement officers’ do not cause the unnecessary loss of life. In Ohio, a mother and her baby were fatally shot by a police officer conducting a drug raid; in Illinois a young unarmed man was killed in front of preschool students after coming out of a church closet with his hands up and head down. Without clear national standards and training, too many families and communities will be left in mourning over the needless loss of their loved ones at the hands of those entrusted with protecting us.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.