weather icon Clear

School police use Taser to subdue Las Vegas High student

Updated October 19, 2017 - 6:35 pm

Clark County School District police used a Taser stun gun to subdue an aggressive 16-year-old Las Vegas High School student on Thursday, the first time a school officer has used the weapon on a student.

The male student was being verbally and physically aggressive toward staff and law enforcement around 7:15 a.m., school officials said at an afternoon news conference. Officers have carried Tasers since 2015, but had never used them before, they said.

Nobody was injured in the altercation, school police Capt. Ken Young said. The student is facing charges of disturbance and battery of a public official.

It’s the latest in a series of violent incidents this year in Clark County schools. Over the past five years, the district has seen a steady increase in violent incidents involving students, state records show.

So far this school year, Clark County School District police have responded to three stabbings, used pepper spray to break up two fights and responded to another melee in which an officer was injured, among other incidents.

“We’re aware of it, we’re concerned, we’re looking for answers, we’re looking for solutions,” Young said.

The district is creating an advisory committee and plans to hold a roundtable in the future to collect community input.

“I think this is a communitywide issue we need to tackle together,” said Deputy Superintendent Kim Wooden.

Last year, there were 6,227 incidents of violence among the 320,523 students enrolled in Clark County that resulted in discipline, according to the most recent state data. That’s 19 incidents for every 1,000 students.

Five years ago, during the 2012-13 year, there were 4,394 incidents among 311,029 students. That’s 14 incidents for every 1,000 students.

There’s no data available yet for the current year.

Student stabbings

The three stabbings at Clark County schools this year all have one factor in common – all the students involved have been females.

But there’s no data showing female students are more likely than male students to stab one another, according to district officials and national experts. And there is no ready explanation for the sudden spate of puncture wounds.

“We’re noticing the same thing you all are,” Capt. Ken Young told the Review-Journal. “But there’s no particular trend.”

The first stabbing this year happened at Thurman White Middle School, during the first week of a school. A 16-year-old non-student came onto campus in the morning and got into an altercation with a 12-year-old student, who stabbed the older girl.

After investigating, Young said it was a “neighborhood issue,” that wasn’t gang- or drug-related.

The more recent stabbings occurred within one week and took place at high schools.

A 16-year-old student at Chaparral High School stabbed a 14-year-old student, again in what Young described as a “neighborhood issue.”

“Whatever issues they’re having in their neighborhoods, they spilled onto campus,” he said.

The third stabbing happened this week at Clark High School when a 14-year-old student stabbed a 16-year-old student. Young wasn’t immediately sure what prompted that incident.

In the wake of the stabbings, Young promised a “total team effort” to try to minimize stabbings or other attacks.

Having officers on campus helps minimize the opportunity – they’re not likely to whip out a weapon if there’s a police officer in site – but parents and staff play an important role too.

“It helps when parents are aware of what they’re kids are bringing to school,” Young said.

The district has previously studied whether having metal detectors at school doors would help school staff and officers find and confiscate weapons.

“You’d need a lot of metal detectors and lot of staff to operate those metal detectors,” school Police Chief Jim Ketsaa said Thursday, noting that most schools have more than one entrance. (Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Violence nationwide

School violence is not just a Clark County issue, Young said.

“It’s going on nationally that teenagers have, for whatever reason, become defiant,” he said.

Nationwide, the number of students who report being threatened or injured with a weapon on a school campus has remained flat since 1993, while the number of students carrying weapons on school campuses has declined, according to data collected and reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most recent data indicates that 4 percent of students had carried either a gun, knife or club onto school property, down from 11 percent in 1993.

Over the same period, the number of students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on campus has remained steady, with 7 percent reporting being threatened or injured in 1993 vs. 6 percent in 2015.

The data is derived from the annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey, which monitors six risky behaviors that tend to lead to death, disability or violence among teens.

The most recent survey of representative samples of students occurred between September 2014 and December 2015. The surveys are voluntary and anonymous and don’t track whether males or females use the weapons they carry on campus or not.

Contact Meghin Delaney at mdelaney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.