8-year-old punches 'Officer Friendly' Incident occurred after presentation

November 05, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

An 8-year-old student punched a Baltimore police officer in the stomach yesterday after an "Officer Friendly" presentation at a West Baltimore elementary school.

The boy, who apparently was disruptive throughout Agent Carolyn Salley's program at Langston Hughes Elementary in the 5000 block of Arbutus Ave., was charged as a juvenile with assault on a police officer, said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman. He was released to his parents.

Agent Salley, 37, was not injured.

The assault baffled school and police officials and left the spokeswoman of the Baltimore Teachers Union nearly speechless.

"Oh, my God, I'm really taken aback," Linda Prudente, a union spokeswoman, said last night.

"It's a sign of what's going on. It shows that none of us is really safe."

Mr. Ringgold, when asked if he could ever recall an assault on an "Officer Friendly," shrugged, looked toward the ceiling of his office and rolled his eyes.

Several officers in the department's community services section regularly travel to Baltimore elementary schools as "Officer Friendly." The program is designed to introduce youngsters to officers and foster a sense of trust, Mr. Ringgold said.

"The program is geared to showing that the police are not bad," he said.

Agent Salley was nearing the end of her presentation to a group of students yesterday morning when the boy became disruptive, police said.

The boy was taken to the principal's office, where he apparently calmed down, police said.

After he was allowed to leave the principal's office, he went to the school's cafeteria, where he sat at a table by himself. Agent Salley approached the youth and asked him if he was all right and if he needed any lunch money, police said.

Apparently still angry at Agent Salley for being sent out of her presentation, he told her, "You can't tell me what to do."

The remark earned him another trip to the principal's office, and Agent Salley joined him and the principal. While the three were talking, the boy stood up and punched Agent Salley in the stomach, police said.

"The officer was well-intentioned but the student was acting out of anger from being sent out of the class," said Donna Franks, a schools spokeswoman.

She said school officials were still "looking into" the assault.

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