Pinellas County, FL — As TFTP has reported, it is extremely difficult to fire a police officer. Officers not only get paid time off when they’re being investigated for departmental infractions or illegal behavior, but, are more times than not, given their jobs back when the investigation is complete. However, one Florida police officer’s actions were so terrible that he was fired after he was caught on audio threatening and taunting an autistic student.
A Pinellas County school resource officer, serving in Osceola Middle School, was caught on audio recordings abusing a student who suffers from autism. Ironically, the officer, Ural Darling, had been celebrated as one of Florida’s top school resource officers for his work in preventing bullying. All that has since changed now that Darling has been found to be the bully, caught by the student’s mother verbally torturing the child.
Megan Dowdy, the student’s mother, said her son had been having night terrors. She suspected something wrong was happening at school, so she placed a recording device in her son’s pocket. Her child, who’s 13-years-old, has the cognitive skills of a first-grader and the communication capacity of a kindergartener. She said his behavior at night led her to believe something terrible was happening at school. She said, “He kept getting up during the night having night terrors, screaming, having meltdowns for no reason.”
After the audio recording came back with her son, Dowdy said she was horrified at what she heard and realized her son had experienced. Officer Darling can be heard saying, “Now let me start throwing books. You want me to throw books at you? How ‘bout if I throw books at you? Huh? You want me to throw these handcuffs on you? Well, I told you to stop. I am not playing with you anymore.”
Dowdy said her son was forced by Darling to stand and hold books in his arms as punishment for throwing books in class. Darling was heard threatening the student and using language prohibited by any teacher or school employee. He said, “You know goddamn well not to throw those books while I’m here…Well, I told you to stop. I am not playing with you anymore.”
Officer Darling even threatened to send the boy to a mental institution, separating the child from his family, a threat which surely caused even more emotional harm to the student with special needs. Darling threatened, “Is that where you want to stay for the rest of your life? Because if I take you, they’re going to keep you there forever.”
The entire incident has left the child’s mother practically speechless. Choking back tears she told reporters “It’s disgusting and disturbing that a police officer, or anyone who is supposed to be taking care of children or keeping them safe can treat a child the way he did.”
In 2011, Darling was named the top school cop in the entire state of Florida. That designation was not lost within Dowdy’s criticisms.
The understandably angry and disappointed mother explained, “It made me sick. This is not a deputy of the year. This is someone who should have never been a police officer and should never be allowed around children. There’s no words to express just how awful this is and what he doesn’t understand is how much he’s put our entire family through.”
It is the firm position of many that police officers simply do not belong in schools. They’re not educators, do not understand behavioral psychology, nor do they know theories of learning in which nearly all educators are trained. Also, they have a tendency to beat, choke, torture, and otherwise violate the rights of countless school children.
Not only can all school personnel be trained in hand to hand combat, gun, knife, and stick disarms, but together they can more effectively secure a school than one lone gunman with a badge.