Being a school resource officer can be among the most rewarding assignments for a police officer. You get to know the students, participate in their lives, and most of all keep children safe.
But like any police assignment, you just never know what will happen. In the age of school shootings and plenty of disgruntled young people there is always the possibility of something happening.
On Friday, May 24, 2019, school resource officers at Bear Creek High School in Stockton, CA, had what should have been an ordinary detention of a disruptive student go sideways.
According to media accounts and a press release from the Lodi Unified School District, school staff and officers were attempting to detain an unruly student when, rather than complying, the student resisted, leading to the officers having to use physical force to take him into custody. That’s when the crowd of student bystanders erupted in profanity, throwing objects, and even attempting to pull the officers away.
The crowd of students quickly grew to an estimated 80 strong. The situation got so bad the school had to be put on lockdown and the officers had to request backup with a significant police presence required to restore order.
Needless to say, the go-to response from the student onlookers was to record the melee and post it to social media. The backlash has been fierce. There are over 1,000 comments and hundreds of shares on the Stockton Police Department Facebook page. The near-riot was broadcast on mainstream media across the country.
This is not the way anyone would like their school to be portrayed.
What is even more disturbing are the number of posts blaming the police for the students’ response, saying that the problem wasn’t what the students did, it was the school staff and police.
It is okay to question the actions of the police when you believe there is an injustice taking place. No one has a problem with that. But when based on little or no information, the response is to resort to a mob mentality. It seems like there is a lot of learning still to be done with some of these students.
Joe Vargas is a retired police captain. You can reach him at email@example.com.