Because of Police Department policy, Brotemarkle returns to Hickman

UPDATE: Columbia Police Chief further explains officer's reinstatement in news release
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | 9:55 p.m. CDT; updated 11:19 a.m. CST, Monday, November 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — Mark Brotemarkle returned Monday to Hickman High School as the school resource officer because according to Columbia Police Department policy, officers are to remain in their positions unless there is a serious incident, such as an officer shooting, Capt. Zim Schwartze said.

"In this particular situation with the information I had at the time, the allegations of excessive force does not fall under that," Schwartze said.

Brotemarkle left Hickman on Friday after a video surfaced on the video-sharing Web site YouTube, showing his involvement in breaking up a fight between several Hickman students on Oct. 15. Later that day, interim Police Chief Tom Dresner announced that the Police Department would conduct an investigation of the disturbance.

Also on Friday, Hickman Principal Mike Jeffers said he was told by the Police Department that Brotemarkle would not be returning as the resource officer until the investigation is complete.

Brotemarkle returned to Hickman on Monday morning. The decision was made in discussion between Schwartze, Sgt. Eric White, who is Brotemarkle's supervisor, and interim Police Chief Tom Dresner.

"We have to do what is best for the school and community," Schwartze said.

The Police Department's Professional Standards Unit is investigating the use of excessive force by Brotemarkle in the fight. Schwartze said she is not aware of any other complaints that have been filed against Brotemarkle.

"We have tried to become very transparent and open with people," Schwartze said. "I hope that people don't believe rumors and third- or fourth-party person information or what they saw in a two-second video."

It's still unclear how long the investigation will take. The Professional Standards Unit is still conducting interviews and examining evidence, Schwartze said.

"We appreciate the large amount of support from people through phone calls, e-mails and even text messages on how we are handling the situation," Schwartze said. "We appreciate the widespread support of the community."

But some community members say that Brotemarkle's return to Hickman while the investigation is still under way is cause for concern.

"It could make students unsafe," said Gene Robertson, a retired MU faculty member whose children graduated from Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. "I don't think we should take that kind of a chance. It appears to me that by placing the officer back into the situation that soon, it indicates you are unilaterally exonerating him."

Robertson said that he and Doug Simmons of Minority Men's Network have met with Schwartze to discuss Brotemarkle's return to Hickman.

"I think the police were forthright and honest in terms of their responding to our questions and being willing to meet with us," Robertson said. "They thought they were acting in the best interest in a situation. I, however, believe it was acting in the police's best interest in a situation where students should come first."

Brotemarkle has also been accused by several Hickman parents of targeting African-American students. Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, declined to comment. She expects to release a formal statement within days, she said.

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Paul Weber October 22, 2008 | 11:05 p.m.

The video of that incident made it onto national cable news. CNN and MSNBC broadcast the clip earlier this week, along with other similar incidents from around the country.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 4:17 a.m.

Ya Paul Weber did you also see that most of those high level news analysts sided with the officer?

Some citizens are fed up with this kind of behavior by kids in schools across our nation.

(Report Comment)
Nathan Stephens October 23, 2008 | 8:57 a.m.

There is a lot more to this particular officer than meets that eye. I have had personal experiences with this guy who usually goes over the top with his job. While having a zeal for your place of employment is commendable in most situations, this guy really takes it too far. And I think that what some segments of the community are saying including myself is that this is not an isolated incident. I can see where people would think he acted appropriately if this was the only incident involving this guy but it's not. I won't disclose some of the things found after some investigation on this officer conducted by concerned members of the community but there is definitely more to this guy than what was shown in the video. The challenge however is for community members to report these incidents to the proper authorities. This is hampered by the fact that when things are reported it appears that 'nothing happens' or that the officer is always exonerated. And with this being seen as a pattern by the CPD, most people simply don't bother to report things any more.

What's worse is that some of the "bad apples in the bunch" often over shadow some of the really good officers in the Columbia Police Department. But for that to change, the CPD must begin to punish their own for acting inappropriately and send a distinct and clear message that this will not be tolerated under any circumstances. And the community must rise above it's current level of frustration and continue to report incidents not only to the CPD but to groups such as GRO, the ACLU and the NAACP. These groups should keep a record of these incidents so that even if the exonerations continue, a pattern emerges over time that cannot be disputed.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 23, 2008 | 9:02 a.m.

We wouldn't need cops in schools if certain parents would take responsibility for their children. If you can't or won't raise them, DON'T HAVE THEM!

(Report Comment)
Morda Scott October 23, 2008 | 11:28 a.m.

I no longer live in Columbia but keep up thru online papers. I am a Zim Schwartze and for the most part CPD fan. I hope that she will be the next and first woman police chief. If I were there, Zim and I would definitely need to have a sit-down on this decision.
I am dissappointed to find that an officer was placed back in a position of authority over children after a situation where he hurt, albeit inadvertantly, an innocent child. At best, he should offer a public apology to the child and her family, but most importantly an apology to the Hickman High School community and Columbia community at large. At the very least, he should not be allowed to return for a minimum of 2 weeks and/or until said apology has been circulated.
People have fought with each other since the beginning of time. Within the bible wars are fought, people are tortured and killed. All the rightous indignation will not remove this element nor will it stop it. As a community, you should offer your time, support and suggestions to channel this type of behavior.
By simply placing this officer back at Hickman is not appropriate. This is why a Citizen's Review Panel should be here now and should have been initiated years ago. The trust factor with the community is at a low. When an innocent child gets hurt, emotions will run high. Are you placing this officer in a position where he or possibly more innocent children could get hurt? All of these things need to be considered. This officer could be placed somewhere else within the police community.
If there is more information that the community needs to be made aware of regarding this officer and past allegations, now is the time to speak, in public not in private. The community needs to hear.
Point fingers at these students or their parents or lack therefore and you will cut off the communication to those that we really need to be concerned about and listen to, the STUDENTS of Hickman High School. Let them make the decision of whether or not they want this officer back in their mist. I am sure that if they have concerns they will let you know. Hickman is their home, it is where some students may only feel safe.
I truly feel that the apology is in order for any positive to happen and for the Hickman community to be able to move forward.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 1:44 p.m.

Ayn Rand use your real name instead of a moniker and maybe people will read your posts.

(Report Comment)
Keener Tippin October 23, 2008 | 2:23 p.m.

When I first heard of this incident, I knew what officer was involved before I read newspaper accounts. As Mr. Stephens stated, this is not an isolated incident with the officer in question.

While he is indeed deserving of due process, I think it is premature to return him to his position at Hickman and sends a wrong message to the students and community as a whole.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 23, 2008 | 2:43 p.m.

Charles, judging by the number of responses to my posts, people ARE reading them. Obviously you are.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 2:49 p.m.

Keener Tippin so you think though it is right that school kids can get away with whatever they want with no repercussions?

My other question to you is why are not the parents of these trouble making school kids being brought into question?

Those kids did not get into this world on their own that is for sure so what is the role of the parents in this? Are they just there to breed more kids or are they there to teach,nurture,educate and to help their children to become responsible citizens?

See this is the problem in this issue as I told the reporter from KOMU News 8 who wanted an interview. Nobody is stepping up to hold the parents accountable because nobody wants to go there.

For shame on the citizens,parents,teachers,school kids and who ever else of Columbia who are only blaming this officer,the school board,the school teachers and everybody but the parents!

This is the kind of malignant disease of complacency that is taking this city in the direction it has been heading the last few months as we have seen by the violence in schools reports and other related crime.

If the parents are not the prime root of the problem there is no solution.

In order to fix the problem you must first root out the problem and that root is the parents of these and all trouble making school kids.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 2:51 p.m.

Ayn Rand use your real name as comments by anybody using a dead persons name holds no accountability.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 23, 2008 | 3:09 p.m.

Officer Brotemarkle should be immediately removed from Hickman, given a medal for "shutting down" a dangerous fight and given a promotion!

(Report Comment)
Shannon Hale October 23, 2008 | 4:00 p.m.

I think what Officer Mark Brotemarkle did at Hickman High School was appropriate regarding the latest school fight. In an age where there is so much violent behavior and disrespect from teenagers the officer did what was necessary to take immediate control of the situation.
In my opinion if a fight breaks out in a public school it is the job of every student around the people fighting to NOT GET INVOLVED, and to get out of the way; because obviously adults with authority will be showing up, to break it up.

A fight broke out on school property, and two female teenagers who took it upon themselves to not only endanger each other, but their peers around them. This is the type of selfish and inconsiderate behavior that is continually displayed by Hickman students these days. I feel like every student that was in the immediate viewing area of this fight and stood by to watch, and not leave the situation, should stand to be disciplined.

I am sure the girl in yellow, Diamond, had nothing but good intentions, but she is not a police officer, school official, or a person with any command. She made the personal choice to step in and get involved, it was her choice; and all choices come with consequences. Diamond made the choice of interjecting her opinion, and physical self into this chaotic situation and then is upset that she got hurt, and thrown around.

Hickman has had several instances in recent history where fights are occurring, and weapons are being confiscated. Diamond stated that she got “hurt for doing the right thing”, I say you should of stayed out of the way and let the adults do their job, then well…….you would not be in this situation.
“The way he handles things is not acceptable.” I say the way Hickman students handle things are far less acceptable then the adults who have to handle the students; and the crappy choices they make and/or the situations they cause.
Doesn’t Hickman have a school policy on how students should respond when a fight breaks out? Does the policy state, stand around the fight and cheer and STAND in the way? Or for everyone to WALK AWAY, so the insolent students who decide to fight realize they are just that, ignorant, and deserve no attention at all. If only Diamond could realize how pitiful her judgment appears too the public, she would probably not be giving such pathetic quotes to the Tribune.
Clearly common sense is what is lacking for all of these students, by either the ones fighting or the ones standing, watching and video taping or the one trying to “help”.

I feel like the parents who are signing petitions to have the officer removed also need to sign a similar petition to have the two teenage girls who were fighting removed and sent to Douglas. They are violent and disruptive and clearly lack the appropriate judgment that is required in a public school setting.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 23, 2008 | 4:13 p.m.

Ms. Hale, You are one smart woman and an eloquent writer.
Thank you for seeing this "school violence" issue through wise and mature eyes...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 4:45 p.m.

Great post and presentation Shannon Hale and keep up the great work in posting as a real concerned citizen presenting the real facts as they truly are.

(Report Comment)
Keener Tippin October 23, 2008 | 5:59 p.m.

Charles Dudley,

Reading is fundamental. My comments were SOLELY about the officer involved in the incident and him being placed back in the school while the investigation CONTINUES. My thoughts and opinions regarding "school kids (who) can get away with whatever they want with no repercussions" were not expressed so please do not think you know my thought process regarding that.

Now, do I think there should be reprecussions for those students for those actions? Yes. As should there be for the officer involved *IF* he is found to have acted inappropriately and used excessive force.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 23, 2008 | 6:12 p.m.

Keener Tippin I was asking you legitimate questions there is no need to get snippity about those questions.

I put nothing into your words not added to them nor took away from them.

They were and are questions everybody should really be asking IMHO.

(Report Comment)
Marlon Jordan October 27, 2008 | 1:27 p.m.

I wonder why all the hoopla over the officers return. Most of the time when an officer is under invesitgation, they usually are given leave with pay. A sort of a mini vacation, so the officer should take the pay and go on a trip. I can't support this one! With all due respect to such groups like Gro, Aclu and The NAACP, I am pissed that folks believe that these such groups should act and speak on your behalf. I never voted for that! Sorry nephew! Can't agree with that, because that would be like someone going to the doctor on my behalf and discussing and negotiating my cancer and treatment. What makes these people think that they have been granted the authority over peoples lives? Why do they continue to have and support seperate methods of laws for people to follow? For instance, attend a sporting event, like hockey and see two players fighting? They don't get arrested or go to jail. The league handles the criminal acts. Likewise, it is a method that the police and these groups continue to practice and braodcast. I love the plain language of our city charter that authorizes an officer to make arrests, and the method that our current criminal system follows, relating to criminal acts. The police will do this to citizens, by following the proper methods, but what they won't do and they lawfully should, is write up a probable cause report against an officer, based on a complaint alleging violation of the Missouri Statues and submit it to the state prosecutor. If it can be proving, the prosecutor can claim conflict of interest and assign a special prosecutor. They can't do federal violations, but the FBI can, but they have'nt said a word. Nathan would rather wait and build a list of police misconduct, unless it gets caught on tape, or its one of their creations. They are waiting for someone to get killed. I also know exactly what the police look for when allegations arise. They began to search case laws and supreme court rulings to justify the conduct, which is usually in their favor. I know that the best she can hope for is money, for making a stupid choice. Can't sue the kids poor parents,the main cause of the whole event, because what do they have?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 27, 2008 | 2:01 p.m.

Marlon Jordan obviously the officer was returned to full duty in that position to prove a point and that point is that the CPS,CPD and the citizens of Columbia are tired of these antics going on in HHS as well as other schools and it is time to crack down on all of it.

Kids are in school to learn not to be fighting. If the parents of those offending teens do not like it maybe they should put their rowdy kids in a private school and see how long that system would put up with them.

(Report Comment)
Michael Vaughn October 27, 2008 | 2:08 p.m.

Charles Dudley Jr. I don't understand why you are not listening to others opinions. Everyone has one and all you want to do is tell everyone against putting the officer back into the school how they are so wrong. He should not be put back there that is plain and simple. There is no reason to make a bad situation worse. Kids have a hard time as it is in school without the stress of fearing the people there who are suppose to be there to protect they. Parents can't be with their children 24 hours a day and they can't control what they do when they are not with them. It is plain stupid to blame the parents for these kids actions. If a child becomes an arsonist when they grow up is it their parents fault? No, some kids make bad decisions, not everyone can be as prefect as apparently you are. Both the kids and the officer made mistakes but, the difference is the kids are just that kids and the officer is an adult. Now the police department has made there mistake by putting his back at the school before the investigation is complete. CPD need to figure out another why of handling this situation.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 27, 2008 | 2:18 p.m.

Michael, if you are a parent, you have a vested interest to make sure that your child knows how to behave because if he or she injures me, I can sue you out of your home and life savings.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 27, 2008 | 2:28 p.m.

To be honest once again Michael Vaughn you are wrong on your points of view.

Did you actually read all of the valid points that I have presented on this issue of why the officer should have been returned.

Did you read all of my valid points of why parents are and should be held accountable for their childrens actions.

It is obvious you did not and by your presentation on the issue you would want these kids to do whatever they want.

Public school is a privilege and not a right. That is the first and foremost fact in this issue.

Children go to school to learn not to be fighting in the hall ways as they did in the days of "Sparta".

You forget those kids are also young adults that can be charged as adults in any and all serious crime.

You are welcomed to your opinion as we all are but I will say you are way way out in "right field" with your opinion and in fact you are so far out in right field it is obvious you forget or neglect to think about the safety of the teachers and the other children who go to school to not only learn as much as they can but to also set a good example for others.

Once again if parents instilled from birth the values needed by all to become good citizens,neighbors and examples to others then the police would not have to be placed in those schools now would they.

(Report Comment)
Michael Vaughn October 28, 2008 | 11:20 a.m.

Charles Dudley Jr. as you have said it is my opinion and not yours. If you and Ayn Rand feel that a parent can control what there child does while not in their presents you both need to go back to school. If the CPS and CPD did as they said and not return the officer to the school until after the investigation was complete then there would be less of a problem. Just because a child does something stupid doesn't mean that an adult (the police office) should do something just as stupid. No child should be manhandled that way reguardless. This is not a perfect world where we raise prefect children, they will do stupid things and learn from their mistakes. The CPD are suppose to be there to help us not to cause fear. How did you expect children to trust or respect the CPD if this is how they do things?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 28, 2008 | 11:35 a.m.

Michael, the law is clear: Even if a child moves out at 17, the parent still can be held liable for the child's actions.

Decent people are tired of being told that they need to pay more in taxes to fund SROs and programs to do the job that parents should be doing.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 28, 2008 | 1:25 p.m.

Would this make a good "sensitivity" training video for officials assigned at Hickman or is it too excessive?

(Report Comment)

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