LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Over the last few years school police have had to use pepper spray and tasers on campus, but Clark County School District data shows there has been a decline in officers deploying pepper spray.
This week, Clark County School District Police officers used pepper spray after a large fight at Las Vegas High School.
A district source told 8 News Now nearly two dozen students were involved in that fight on Wednesday overpowering administrators.
Students and adults were hit with pepper spray, and authorities suspect it was gang-related.
Las Vegas High School’s principal issued a statement, saying the incident serves as an important reminder that students should obey instructions when told.
One student described what they saw.
“Two people got hit straight in the eyes, same with the teachers,” Mackenzie said. 8 News Now is only using her first name. “Coming from a more quiet school back at home to come to this, kids are getting hit to the point where pepper spray is needed?”
The school district collects data on the number of times CCSDPD has had to use force. In the 2019-2020 school year, officers used pepper spray 30 times and a taser six times.
Skipping the pandemic year, in 2021-2022 pepper spray was used 52 times and a taser four times.
Moreover in the 2022-2023 school year, data, which is not fully complete, shows officers deployed pepper spray 8 times and a taser twice.
CCSDPD Chief Mike Blackeye testified before Nevada lawmakers on March 22 and he told them his officers are being trained to decrease pepper spray usage. Tasers were mostly used on adults.
“I had noticed from watching those videos that our officers, that they weren’t talking. I remember telling them it seemed like some of them were struck mute when they were approaching fights and things like that,” Chief Blackeye said.
Blackeye said he instructed his officers to identify themselves when they arrived on the scene. He stressed how important it is for officers to build positive relationships with students as a way to improve behavior.
“It’s just my belief that if we are teaching our kids better ways to solve their problems than violence. I believe they will look at it as not more than just a threat,” Blackeye said.
A source within CCSD said fights continued on Thursday at Las Vegas High School, but pepper spray was not used.