Orlando police has launched an internal investigation after Officer Dennis Turner arrested two children at a school on Thursday, September 19th.
Turner was working as a school resource officer when he took two students into custody. One of the students was just 6-years-old and the other student was an 8-year-old. Both were taken in on misdemeanor charges in separate incidents. In Florida, it is required by the Orlando Police Department to have a watch commander give approval to the arrest of any children under the age of 12.
Meralyn Kirkland, the grandmother of the black 6-year-old girl who was arrested, was called on Thursday and told that her granddaughter was arrested on a battery charge for throwing a tantrum. “No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them, and they were riding in the back of a police car and taken to a juvenile center to be fingerprinted, mug shot,” Kirkland said in an interview with WKMG News 6.
“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me,” Chief Orlando Rolón said. “Our Department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.”
The 6-year-old was released from custody after being subjected to the full treatment of an average criminal. The young girl was handcuffed, fingerprinted, and had mug shots taken. The 8-year-old, who was arrested in a separate incident, was processed through a Juvenile Assessment Center and released.
Police are often deployed to help provide security at schools across the country, a practice that became more common following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Somewhere between 14,000 and 20,000 officers work at 45 percent of schools in the United States, and as a result more children have been arrested for nonviolent infractions.
In 2016, almost 90 cases of police using tasers on students between the age of 12 and 19 were unearthed. Black students make up only 16 percent of the student body in the country, but they also make up 31 percent of school arrests.