Panel Debates Arming Monitors with Metal Batons

Assistant Education Commissioner Marie Encarnacion tells senators that metal batons send the wrong message to students. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)
Assistant Education Commissioner Marie Encarnacion tells senators that metal batons send the wrong message to students. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)

Whether to prohibit school monitors from carrying metal batons became a topic of debate Monday, questioning if meeting violence with violence was appropriate in the territory schools.

At a hearing of the Senate’s Committee on Education and Workforce Development, officials from the department spoke in favor of the ban while representatives from the V.I. Police Department wanted school monitors to have the weapons.

Senators discussing the bill appeared evenly divided on it, which was reflected in the fact that the bill was held in committee.

Proposed by Sen. Dwayne DeGraff, the bill would prohibit monitors from carrying metal batons but would allow them to carry rubber batons.

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“Metal batons have a tendency to destroy what they hit,” DeGraff said. “They break bones.”

Marie Encarnacion, assistant commissioner of education, said arming the monitors would be sending the wrong message, “a terrible message,” to students.

However, David Cannorier, St. John’s assistant police chief, thought armed monitors would send the right message to students. He said students seeing a monitor with a weapon would think again before doing something they should not do.

Encarnacion said that how to use a baton effectively and safely was not always part of a monitor’s training. She said a survey of the territory’s school monitors showed about half wanted to carry a baton, and half said it was not necessary.

Sen. Kurt Vialet, a former school principal, said he did not want the monitors to use the batons against students, but they should carry them in case they need to use them against a violent intruder on school property.

Attending the hearing were committee members Sens. Donna Frett-Gregory, Janelle Sarauw, Vialet, Stedmann Hodge Jr. and Allison DeGazon and non-committee member- Sen. Dwayne M. DeGraff.

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  1. And we wonder why our children are becoming so violent. When we see our police looking more and more militant daily, and then these same police want our schools to have weapons, what does this say to our children? Does it say that the adults of the world, their parents and mentors, aren’t capable of creating a safe world they can live in without it being full of weapons? Is that what we are telling our children? Lord, have mercy. One day, we will have to lay all weapons down, everyone of them, and say no more. I say that day should be today. As long as there is one weapon on this planet, none of us will ever live in peace. Even our animals deserve to be respected through the hunt, and not killed the lazy and easy way. We need to wake up and realize we are doing nothing more than reaping what we have been sowing, and we have been sowing war and weapons all over this planet, far and wide, and our children deserve better!

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