ACLU urges ban on Tasers, pepper spray in schools

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by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 8:00 PM

CEDAR CREEK, Texas -- A second letter writing attempt by the American Civil Liberties Union to ban the use of Tasers and pepper spray on students was unsuccessful.

In November, 17-year-old Neo Rivera went into a coma after a school resource officer tased him. He’s since come out of the coma, but has remaining neurological issues.

Following the incident, the ALCU sent a letter to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, asking it prohibit the use of Tasers and pepper spray. It said it lacked authority.

So, along with six other organizations, the ACLU sent another letter Wednesday, this time to the Commissioner of Education Michael Williams.

However, a statement Thursday from the Texas Education Agency in part said, “There is no authorization in state law that would allow TEA to prohibit law enforcement personnel from carrying or using Tasers or pepper spray in the course of their duties within public school. That is a conversation that has to take place among local elected officials.”

The Austin ISD Police Department issues tasers and trains officers. However, in the 10 years since getting Tasers, Chief Eric Mendez says they’ve never used one on a student.

“We try to use our presence. We try to work with the student [and] try to get them to comply,” said Mendez.

Policy also states they can't use Tasers on anyone under 14, or anyone with a disability. Still the ACLU believes Rivera's case shows schools aren't the place for tasers.

Go here to read the ACLU's letter to the TEA.

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