To the Editor:
Last week’s “Junior Police Academy” article glamorizes the use of violent police force, teaching children that some groups of people deserve violence and other groups are entitled to administer it.
The article reflected no consideration to the “suspects” the students were trained to beat, tase, and shoot.
Officer Murray acknowledged the intense level of pain when Loki “full-on attack[s]” people (who are simply suspects not leaving a building) but assured the kids they’ve never had to use Loki and hopes he never has to because, “It’s a whole lot of paperwork.” The kids even learn “crowd control,” or hitting mats with batons while reciting, “Stop resisting!” Such acts of violence are treated as games rewarded with Deborah Anne’s.
The article even quipped that the only break in the “fun and games” is punishing tardiness with push-ups. The kids considered their highlights the Tasers, the guns, and seeing “where bad guys get locked up,” implying the students will never be considered “bad guys” or the potential targets of such force.
Though Tamir Rice was shot and killed for holding a toy gun, Ridgefield children of the same age are trained to “fire guns loaded with paintball ‘simunition’,” even after this year’s student-led protests against gun violence in schools (protected by police).
In fact, in 2017 more children under 18 were killed by police than in school shootings (www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/?noredirect=on). Perhaps for Ridgefield students, the police is a source of protection while for those living in Bakersfield, Oklahoma City, and Oakland, whose police departments had the highest rates of police killings in 2015 (mappingpoliceviolence.org/2015), the police is dangerous. This article portrays police violence as a camp activity and a game that children can choose to participate in and leave after a week, while its impacts on many cities are lasting and often fatal.