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September 23, 2014

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Students’ parent enraged by school police’s ‘excessive’ use of pepper spray at Chaparral

Map of Chaparral

Chaparral

3850 Annie Oakley Dr., Las Vegas

A number of Chaparral High School students were pepper-sprayed after a fight broke out around lunchtime Friday at the school.

Parent Aaron Aguirre said he received distraught calls shortly after 12:30 p.m. from his son and daughter attending the central Las Vegas Valley school.

Chaparral junior Selena Aguirre, 17, told her father that school police officers used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of about 100 students who witnessed a fight in the school quad. Officers sprayed randomly in the air, affecting bystanders as well as the fighting students, Selena said.

In the melee, Selena — who said she was not involved in the fight — was hit in the face with pepper-spray, Aaron Aguirre said.

"She was upset and crying because she couldn't breathe," Aaron Aguirre said, adding that Selena's contact lenses were ruined as a result. "I'm (mad). She felt violated — she was sprayed for no reason."

Aaron Aguirre said he went straight to the school after the calls because he was concerned about the use of pepper spray on those involved in the fight and bystanders, too.

After speaking with a school police officer investigating the fight, Aaron Aguirre was not satisfied with their reasons for using pepper spray, he said.

"They used excessive force," Aaron said. "I don't think they should be using pepper spray in schools because some kids could be allergic. It's just wrong."

School District Police confirmed officers used pepper spray to disperse four or five students who started a fight in the school quad shortly after noon.

Five school police officers responded to the fight, police spokesman Ken Young said. Two of them were assigned to Chaparral, the other three were called in by central dispatch.

Officers gave a verbal warning and tried to physically separate the fighters before resorting to using pepper spray to stop the fight and scatter the crowd of bystanders, Young said.

No officers were injured in the fight. It is unknown how many students were affected by the pepper spray, Young said.

The incident is still under investigation, and officers do not know why the students began fighting, Young added.

One student was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice. Four other students were given citations for participating in the fight, he said.

School Police are allowed to carry and use pepper spray, just like any other police agency in town, Young said. Officers are trained to take note of location and the severity of the violence before using pepper spray, he said.

Young urged parents to tell their children to walk away from fights and to avoid being a bystander.

"Because (pepper spray) is a chemical agent, there is a fallout," Young said. "If people are in the vicinity, there's a good chance they may be affected."

Chaparral Principal Dave Wilson said the number of fights at the "turnaround" school have decreased from 142 in the 2010-11 school year to just nine in the 2011-12 school year.

Last year, Chaparral had changed its schedule so that lunch period was at the end of the school day, discouraging fights. Students were given two 15-minute "nutritional breaks" during the middle of the school day to eat their lunch, Wilson said.

However, the schedule was changed this year to add an additional period — or 35 extra instructional minutes — to the school day. The lunch period was moved to the middle of the school day, Wilson said.

So far this year, there have been four reported fights at the school, he said.

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  1. A parent that was not there and did not see anything says "They used excessive force."

    Does he have a video of what happen or is he just doing like many these days and looking for someone to blame or sue?

    If there is a fight and you are not involved, get away from it. To many fights turn into weapons being used. Why stick around to become a target?

    Teach your kids right, they don't need to be involved and don't start pointing fingers when you if did no see what happened.

  2. I told my boys, if they are ever in an area where the police are trying to control any type of situation go the other way as fast as possible. The police do not care what, when, why, or how, they are going to take control of the problem and if they can't, back-up is just a radio call away and believe me I have never seen any officer lose a battle. Point being if you are in the area get the hell out now and I mean NOW. Then you won't have to call home.

  3. @TomD1228...spot on re; different world. When I got into fights the priests would drag us apart, down to gym, makes us strip to shorts and put on the gloves. To get let out somebody had to draw blood or cave. I think it took about three times to get it through my very thick head. LOL

  4. Let's see 100 students and how many officers? Umm if your daughter was doing what she should have been doing and not watching a fight then she's be ok.

  5. Those poor children. Those poor whiny children. Those poor, whiny, spoiled children. I think the school police need Tasers.

  6. The fight could have come her way and gotten her trampled and kicked. Don't stand close to a bull fight either.

  7. From what I read, most commentors believe the police acted appropriately. I agree. I remember fights in school and how bystanders, rather than trying to stop them, urged the fighters on; cheering as the blood flowed. No doubt much of this was going on in this case. I feel no sympathy for those on the sidelines enraptured by the violence unfolding before them. They may not have thrown a punch but are just as culpable as those that did.

  8. In elementary school, children are taught to remove THEMSELVES from negative behaving individuals or events. Furthermore, they are told not to expect such negative behaving individuals or events to move or leave, that they must take the initiative and leave. Afterall, birds of a feather, flock together....or, guilt by association.

    This is a lesson learned in elementary school, so older young people SHOULD have learned this and be practicing this into adulthood. Simple common sense.

    This situation at Chaparral High could have evolved into something far worse had not the School Police intervened.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  9. Please permit me to add, that if there is NO audience, fights will descalate in short order. The more attention by crowds to a fight, the more violent and involving they become.

    Hence, removing one's self from such a situation, and electing not to add power to a fight, nor potentially become a part of an outcrop fight.

    Experience in Correctional Education and Alternative Education has provided me such insight.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  10. Given the stats listed it seems the school is doing a great job, the parents should be thanking them. The parents should also be telling their kids to stay away from any fights that may erupt not be standing around and watching. The students that got a little spray had the chance to leave when the officers asked them. My parents would have disciplined me when I got home not go cry to the school.

  11. A challenge for school police is that fights range from guys being guys to gang initiation and payback involving both guys and girls. Some of the kids come to school armed with knives and guns. Sorry for the incredibly stupid girl caught by pepper spray but she should not have been there. The police did the right thing to de-escalate quickly.

  12. Mr. Aguirre sends me an email about my comments here.

    He "knows" even though he was not there.'

    Maybe next time the police should just stand back and watch as the fight gets more out of control, guns or knives become involved and his "bystander" daughter ends up hurt or worse.

    What would he have to say about the police and their actions then?

    Teach your kids personal responsibility and stop looking to blame others before your kids end up hurt by more than pepper spray.

  13. I can remember this happening to me when I attended Chaparral in the late 90's. I was a good 20 meters away from the scrum, but because of the way those hallways act as wind tunnels I caught a solid whiff of the stuff. Most unpleasant. Glad to see Chap has advanced to the point where people will at least question the wisdom of the mass pepper-spraying of children.

    The bright side was that I knew what to expect when I went through the tear gas chamber at boot camp the following year.