Orlando police have launched an investigation after an officer arrested two children, ages 6 and 8, on Thursday at a local charter school in two separate incidents.
One of the children — a 6-year-old girl — allegedly landed in handcuffs after throwing a tantrum in class, according to Florida station WKMG-TV.
Dennis Turner was working as a school resource officer when he made the arrests Thursday. Turner serves on the Reserve Unit, a special unit comprised of retired Orlando Police Department officers, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Under department policy, Turner had to get approval from a watch commander before arresting any child under the age of 12; however, in both incidents last week, police said he went ahead without approval.
In the other incident, the transport officer was allegedly not aware that Turner had not gotten the proper approval, and took the 8-year-old involved to the Juvenile Assessment Center, where the child was processed.
“The child was released to a family member a short time later,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon told the local station.
Officials immediately stopped processing for the 6-year-old after another transport officer discovered that Turner had allegedly not gone through the proper channels, and returned the child to school.
However, the young girl’s grandma Meralyn Kirkland was outraged to learn that her 6-year-old granddaughter, who she identified as Kaia Rolle, had to endure the ordeal.
"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," she told WKMG-TV.
Kirkland said her granddaughter had been acting out at her Orlando charter school and had kicked a staff member who was trying to calm her down at the time. She said Rolle has sleep apnea and was overtired — something she claimed she tried to explain to Turner.
"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,'" Kirkland said.
Rolon said the department is now investigating the incident.
“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old, this is very concerning to me,” he said. “Our department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.”
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