Save 75% - Only $49.99 for 1 full year! digitalPLUS subscription offer ends 12/1
NewsOpinion

Essex policeman reacted properly by using pepper spray to stop a fight

Having been assigned to Precinct 11 in Essex for the last four years until my retirement in November, I am very familiar with the school resource officers at Chesapeake High School who were involved in the use of pepper spray to break up a fight between two students ("How much force is too much?" Dec. 16).

Both officers have been at the school for years; they know and care about the kids and work well with the administration. And you can be assured that In the Baltimore County Police Department, every incident like this one is critiqued and evaluated to see if the officers acted properly, whether additional training is needed and whether things should be done differently in the future.

Non-lethal tactics such as pepper spray are deployed to stop violent situations from escalating into incidents such as the one at Overlea High School a couple of years ago, where the school resource officers were seriously injured.

It is unfortunate that other students who may not have been directly involved in the fighting felt the effects of the spray. Yet I can't help but wonder if they were so close to the spray because they were just standing by watching, or perhaps because they were actually encouraging the offenders.

According to your own account of what happened, the officer gave several warnings and attempted to use other methods to de-escalate the situation — all to no avail when the two students involved in the fight both turned on him. This is completely unacceptable student behavior.

To answer your question whether the same rules that apply to criminals on the street should apply to students in the school, an officer's safety can be put in peril in either place.

In this case, the officers followed all the use-of-force procedures, and neither they nor the students were seriously hurt. That was the ultimate goal.

Perhaps this use of pepper spray will act as a deterrent that causes these and other students to think twice before assaulting a police officer. That would remove the need to deploy pepper spray at all.

Michael J. DiPaula

The writer is a former commander of Precinct 11 in Essex.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Police officers in schools are a waste of county resources

    It seems to me that posting highly-trained police officers at Baltimore County's Chesapeake High School and other county middle and high schools is either a colossal waste of guns and badges, or, if truly necessary, a sure sign that we ought to give up ("How much force is too much?" Dec. 16).

  • Pepper-spraying officer did nothing wrong

    Regarding the recent fight at Chesapeake High School ("How much force is too much?" Dec. 16), while it is unfortunate that some non-combatants suffered non-lethal inflammation and irritation, the fact of the matter is that they were in the vicinity, (and no doubt cheering on the fight) and...

  • Fracking moves forward
    Fracking moves forward

    A week ago, a failed switch in a home along the shores of Deep Creek Lake caused 1,700 gallons of raw sewage to accidentally spill into the water, enough that health officials had to monitor local water quality and post warning signs nearby after the cleanup. The episode was uncommon, but it...

  • Trees make a city look more beautiful
    Trees make a city look more beautiful

    Years ago, author Alice Walker published a book of poems entitled "Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful." Though the landscape in her verse was rural, she might well have said the same of the urban cityscape and its mature trees. Baltimore's leafy green canopy surely makes the city a...

  • Who's next?
    Who's next?

    What Marylander had the biggest impact on the state in 2014? The Sun is asking for your nominations for the 2014 Marylander of the Year. Please send them to talkback@baltimoresun.com and include "Marylander of the Year" in the subject line. We'll announce the finalists in mid-December and a...

  • Ferguson impact [Poll]
    Ferguson impact [Poll]
Comments
Loading