No police officers will be roaming Middletown public schools after School Resource Officers tasered a student accused of stealing a beef patty earlier this month.
The Middletown Board of Education made the decision on Tuesday during an executive session to permanently remove officers from the three schools to which officers are assigned, the Middletown Press reports.
On Friday, Sept. 3, a 17-year-old student stole a Jamaican beef patty from the cafeteria, police said. One school resource officer got into an altercation with the student and another office came to help and shot the student with a Taser.
After outrage over the incident, police issued a statement defending their actions and said the police response had nothing to do with the student allegedly stealing lunch, but because he was fighting. They also said he was “drive stunned,” meaning that the probes of the Taser were not used.
School resource officers are police officers who are stationed in the schools, the Press reports, and the union continues to back the officers.
"The (Police) Union 100 percent backs the officers. In this case, the use of force was completely appropriate. It’s clear that (the SROs) did nothing wrong," Derek Puorro, the union president, told the paper. "The Board of Education’s actions and comments have made me sick."
Several parents and students spoke during attended Tuesday’s meeting.
"It is not acceptable to subject the kids to any electrocution as a form of discipline," Rebecca Johnson said. "May God strike me down dead the day I decide that the appropriate discipline for stealing...is an electric device. Middletown public schools has stooped to an all-time low."
Then, the board went into session.
Board Chairman Ted Raczka, the Press reports, said the discussion moved out of the public and into executive session because the student’s name was going to be discussed and there was "clear chance of litigation."
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