Victor Valley Union High School security investigated for use of excessive force www.privateofficer.com
VICTORVILLE CA May 16 2012 The Victor Valley Union High School District has placed two Silverado High security officers on leave amid concerns the officers acted too harshly while detaining two students involved in a recent fistfight.
The district is also investigating a third security officer and stressing to all security personnel that rough physical measures should only be taken as a “last resort,” Superintendent Elvin Momon said.
“We just want to make sure that things are above-board and they’re following protocol and training,” Momon said.
The district began investigating the security officers after watching a cell phone video of a fight on campus earlier this year that had been posted to YouTube. The video showed two students in a heated brawl, throwing punches with a crowd of students around them, according to Momon. The security officers arrived to break up the fight, and at one point a student tried to attack a student who was being restrained, Momon said.
The officers then grabbed the students by their necks and put them in tight headlocks, Momon said.
Nobody was seriously injured, but district officials are now questioning whether officials could have handled the situation in a less physical way.
It’s not the first time such concerns were raised this year.
Several weeks ago, a mother complained after Silverado security officers reportedly handcuffed her special-needs daughter and pressed her head to a wall, leaving a shallow scrape across her upper face, according to Momon. The girl had been caught loitering with friends at another lunch period when she was supposed to be headed straight to the bathroom and back to class. Though she was reportedly failing to respond to officers and getting violent, Momon said he was “baffled” why two large security guards had that much trouble restraining a small-framed girl.
With roughly 3,800 students, Silverado High presents a challenge to security officers as the largest high school in the Victor Valley. The school on Palmdale Road also has a history of racial tension between Hispanic and black students.
School officials have said on-campus violence has diminished in recent years. But a quick YouTube search pulls up several fights on the campus posted within the last few months. Many include the phrase “Mexican vs Black” along with a string of obscene comments and hateful exchanges.
Principal Sergio White is taking steps toward improving the campus culture, Momon said, such as through “Breaking Down Barriers” activities that aim to prevent school violence. White could not be reached for comment Monday.
The district is in the process of creating an official security training manual — with Momon surprised to find none had existed — and offering more professional development for its security officers, who already go through several levels of training, depending on their classification.
All school employees should focus on establishing a better rapport with students and using tactics like verbal judo, a strategy police officers use to diffuse conflicts with words, Momon said.
“We need to focus on relationships with kids,” he said.