LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada lawmakers grilled Clark County school administrators in Carson City on Wednesday in a hearing that went for more than four hours.
The topic was regarding the altercation between a student and a Clark County school police officer at Durango High School.
Clark County School District Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara and CCSDPD Chief Mike Blackeye were asked to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Education and Senate Judiciary committees.
Some of the legislators were troubled by the district’s policies when dealing with children.
“I come from the perspective that if students are fighting, rather than giving them a citation or arresting them, maybe we should provide them with the mental health resources that they need,” State Sen. Fabian Doñate, (D) Clark County, said.
Several state senators criticized Chief Blackeye over his department’s reported use of force and treatment of students.
During an exchange, Sen. Doñate asked Blackeye how many officers were investigated for excessive force on students in the last three years.
“In the neighborhood of five,” Blackeye responded.
Doñate said, “Just for clarification. So that is five that you have investigated for use of force?”
“My guess is that would be five for excessive use of force,” Blackeye said.
“And do you know have been terminated or were most of them suspended? Or that’s just the number for investigation?”
“That’s the number for investigation. The outcome of the investigation is not public,” Blackeye said.
The back-and-forth question and answer session led to Chief Blackeye requesting a bathroom break, which was granted.
What sparked Wednesday’s proceedings in Carson City was the incident on Feb. 9 involving a CCSDPD officer and a Durango High student near the high school.
An officer was captured on cell video grabbing a Black student by the neck, taking him to the ground, and placing his knee on the student’s back.
Several community members attended the hearing to testify on the matter.
“These are things, are issues, that are continuing to plague and continuing to confront our communities. You know, and to be honest with you, we’re just tired of it,” Bishop Derek Rimson of the NAACP of Las Vegas said.
CCSD released numbers pertaining to its use of force over three years.
2019-2020 – 58 Use of Force incidents
• 30 Oleoresin capsicum (OC) deployments
• 6 Taser deployments
• 22 Open hand
2021-2022 – 90 Use of Force incidents
• 52 Oleoresin capsicum (OC) deployments
• 4 Taser deployments
• 34 Open hand
2022-2023 – 38 Use of Force incidents
• 8 Oleoresin capsicum (OC) deployments
• 2 Taser deployments
• 28 Open hand
OC is commonly referred to as pepper spray, and there has been a decrease in the current school year of CCSDPD using it.
Blackeye told lawmakers the number of fights between students is on track to decrease by 20 percent compared to the previous 2021/2022 school year. Yet, the number of individual acts of violence, such as battery and assault, is up.