AUSTIN -- Seven groups, including the ACLU and Texas Appleseed Project, are advocating removing all Tasers and pepper spray in schools. Officers in the Austin Independent School District are required to carry Tasers in high schools.
According to district policy, school resource officers don't use Tasers on elementary or middle school students, anyone with an apparent disability, elderly people or pregnant women.
Since officers began carrying Tasers in 2004, they have threatened to use them three times on students but never have.
"We want to make sure tools are in place so we can gain control of a situation, and we don’t have to resort to the point where there is lethal force," said AISD police chief Eric Mendez.
Civil rights groups are calling on all schools to ban Tasers and pepper spray and advocating for more training for officers stationed in schools.
"Right now, our school resource officers receive the same training as officers who patrol our streets," said Texas Appleseed project deputy director Deborah Fowler. "Training officers to treat students like hardened criminals short-changes both our students and officers working in this unique environment with a vulnerable population."