Letters to the Editor: The Long Beach school cop who killed Mona Rodriguez should never have been hired

·2 min read
Long Beach, California-Oct. 1, 2021-Manuela Sahagun, left, mother of Mona Rodriguez, is hugged by Oscar Rodriguez, brother of Mona Rodriguez, after a press conference on Friday, October 1, 2021. The family of Mona Rodriguez appears outside Long Beach Memorial Care Hospital, where Rodriguez was taken off life support today. Mona Rodriguez, age 18, was shot by a Long Beach Public safety officer as she sat in the passenger seat of a car unarmed. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Manuela Sahagun, left, mother of Mona Rodriguez, is hugged by Mona's brother Oscar Rodriguez, after a news conference in Long Beach on Oct. 1. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The killing of Mona Rodriguez by a sworn school "safety officer" in Long Beach was wholly avoidable. ("Long Beach school district officials fire safety officer after internal review of shooting," Oct. 6)

The Long Beach Board of Education mulls over de-escalation training and mediation but is silent on improved screening during the hiring process.

According to your article, Officer Eddie F. Gonzalez was removed from employment in Los Alamitos after 90 days on that city's police force. After that, he was removed by the Sierra Madre Police Department before he had completed a year on the job.

Aren't these red flags? It seems that the Long Beach school board needs to take a hard look into its background check process. This tragedy could have been averted had this employer done better due diligence in hiring.

Nanette Pastor-Hanna, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: Instead of pushing for the removal of armed presence on campus, we should first question why our officers are not able to keep our children safe.

In the U.S., new officers spend on average only 840 hours, or 21 weeks, on training, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Of that, 168 hours are spent on firearms, self-defense and use of force, while only 10 hours are spent on mental illness. Most forces do not require their sworn personnel to undergo conflict management training.

As a social work graduate student, I am required to have 3,000 hours of supervised experience before I can even apply for a license in most states.

If we require officers to use good judgment in high-stress situations, then 840 hours of training is not enough. We need to start pushing for better de-scalation, community building and anti-bias training. Simply removing officers from campuses will not remove the source of the issue.

Joey Ngai, Lawrenceville, Ga.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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