Spring Valley video brings up questions on use of force

Published: Oct. 27, 2015 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With video of a Spring Valley High School resource officer slamming and dragging a female student out of her desk making the rounds on social media, the question of use of police force has once again surfaced.

According to the National Association for School Resource Officers, the use of "physical restraint devices is rarely necessary," but they under stand that state and federal law enforcement agencies have their own policies.

"NASRO believes the U.S. Department of Education's position that 'restraint and seclusion should be avoided to the greatest extent possible without endangering the safety of students and staff' is the best practice to follow in nearly all situations," the group said.

The Spring Valley video shows Senior Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Fields getting physical with the female student, slamming her down and dragging her out from her desk using her leg.

WEB EXTRA: Watch the three angles of the incident: Angle 1 | Angle 2 | Angle 3

According to Richland County Sheriff's Department spokesman Curtis Wilson, deputies have to use discretion with each case regardless of age.

"We have to take it case-by-case and say this adult's going to act this way, or this minor is going to act this way and it has to be the same across the board. We can't look at it as a whole. We have to follow policy and procedure when it comes to dealing with an adult or dealing with a minor," Wilson said.

All of that said, the sheriff's department made sure to say they're aware that SROs are often looked to as mentors -- an additional responsibility they gain by spending their day with students.

"I would say yes, it's a more sensitive place, because you're dealing with young minds," Wilson said. "But of course when you talk about the situation in it's totality, you want to make sure you look at what exactly is going on."

Wilson also called the incident "unfortunate."

"The Sheriff is very disturbed by it just like the citizens who have seen this video, but we're looking at it and we're going to see exactly what the outcome will be of this one," Wilson said.

The Criminal Justice Academy, meanwhile, tells us all officers, SROs included, are taught to "apply the amount of force that is demonstrated by the person you are addressing. Officers should always be one threat level above the aggressor."

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