Syracuse Police Union wants cops out of city schools

MGN Online

Following an incident in which a Syracuse Police officer was cleared by Onondaga County prosecutors of using excessive force against a Nottingham High School student accused of trespassing, the Syracuse Police Union President says all police officers should be removed from city school buildings.

In a prepared news release, Police Benevolent Association President Jeff Piedmonte said, “The school superintendent has buckled under outside pressure and removed Officer Vallon Smith from the school. Professional protestors put pressure on the school board and superintendent until they caved. It isn’t the students or parents that complained but outside influences.”

Click here to see video of the incident at Nottingham High School from February 2017.

Piedmonte gave the following account of Officer Smith’s interaction with the student:

Officer Smith arrested a student for trespass after the vice-principal told the student he would be arrested if he did not leave the property. While following behind the student ensuring his departure, this student advised the officer that he was not going to leave the property, at which time Officer Smith grabbed the student, placed him under arrest and pushed him against the wall in an attempt to control him. It should be noted that the student bypassed the metal detector on his way into the school, so Officer Smith did not know if the student was armed. This student fought with Smith, actively resisting arrest, until a second officer arrived. This teenager also told Smith he would spit in his face, so the officer continued to push his face upwards to avoid being spit on. At this time the student was forcefully taken to the ground, which we are trained to do, but the student continued to resist arrest. After struggling with the student he was finally handcuffed and escorted away.

Piedmonte says the student in question has “terrorized schools for years and been allowed to do it.”

In justifying a call to pull officers from all city school buildings, Piedmonte said, “The school district continues to coddle bad students, who continue to misbehave. This conduct is acceptable to the Syracuse school district and places students and teachers in harm's way. We have been told by many teachers they do not feel safe in the schools and that students' conduct is getting worse. Officer Smith has been a professional while in the school and is referred to as Officer Friendly by the students. The administrators at Nottingham HS also respected him. This didn't matter.”

Piedmonte accuses Syracuse City Schools of going to a “minimal discipline policy,” and is now asking Mayor Ben Walsh, Superintendent Jaime Alicea and Police Chief Frank Fowler to remove all officers for everyone’s safety.

We have reached out to the Mayor’s Office for comment and will update this story as new information develops.

There is a special meeting of the Syracuse School Board this evening at 5:00 pm at district headquarters on Harrison Street.

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