A Florida police officer has been suspended after arresting a six-year-old and an eight-year-old in two separate incidents on the same day.
The Orlando Police Department began conducting an internal investigation after school resource officer Dennis Turner arrested the two children last week.
Officer Turner found it necessary to handcuff Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy pupil Kaia Rolle, 6, after she kicked a staff member.
The student reportedly has a sleep condition which led to her acting up in class and she lashed out at the staff member as they attempted to hold her wrists and calm her down.
Kaia was arrested and charged with battery before being processed at a juvenile detention centre, though she did return to school the same day.
The six-year-old’s arrest was the second Officer Turner had made that day, though the reason for the eight-year-old’s arrest has not been released.
The Orlando Police Department’s policy requires an officer to get the approval of a watch commander before arresting anyone under the age of 12, however the school resource officer did not follow this procedure.
According to Click Orlando, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon explained the transport officer taking the eight-year-old to the juvenile detention centre ‘was not aware an approval was not obtained’.
The 8-year-old was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center. The child was released to a family member a short time later.
Rolon said Officer Turner’s duties have been suspended pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
Speaking of the arrests, Rolon said:
The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor, and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed.
As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old, this is very concerning to me. Our department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.
Kaia’s grandmother, Meralyn, expressed outrage at her granddaughter’s arrest, saying ‘no six-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them.’
Speaking to Click Orlando, the grandmother said she tried to explain Kaia’s sleep condition to the officer but he was unsympathetic.
She has a medical condition that we are working on getting resolved, and he says, ‘What medical condition?’
‘She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,’ and he says, ‘Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don’t behave like that’.
Officer Turner has been assigned to the Reserve Officer Program while the investigation is underway.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.