NOBLE Urges Immediate Review of Handcuffing of Five Year Old

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NOBLE calls for the Pinellas County School District, Mayor, Chief of Police and other city officials to initiate an immediate investigation and review of existing operating protocols and policies relating to the handling of troubled youngsters in schools and make whatever changes are necessary to avoid arresting and handcuffing 5 year olds.

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) today called for an immediate and full investigation of a recent incident involving a 5-year-old African American girl being handcuffed and forcibly removed by local police officers at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Like millions of fellow Americans, NOBLE members across this nation were outraged and shocked to see national television coverage of police handcuffing and forcibly removing a child following an apparent temper tantrum,” said NOBLE National President Clarence Edwards.

“As law enforcement professionals we are fully aware that pictures often fail to tell the whole story, but we feel that a more civilized approach could and should have been used by the school authorities and police in handling this particular situation,” Edwards said.

NOBLE calls for the Pinellas County School District, Mayor, Chief of Police and other city officials to initiate an immediate investigation and review of existing operating protocols and policies relating to the handling of troubled youngsters in schools and make whatever changes are necessary to avoid arresting and handcuffing 5 year olds. “Mistakes in judgment sometime occur, but they should not be compounded by a failure to correct them,” explained Edwards.    

“We are also troubled by the decision of some of America’s television stations to air full face pictures of this young girl. We agree that the arrest and handcuffing of a 5 year old, while unfortunate and unconscionable, is possibly newsworthy because the incident was captured on tape. However, we strongly disagree with the decision to show this child’s face on national television,” said Edwards. “The media routinely shields the faces of juveniles arrested for far more serious offenses than having an apparent temper tantrum. Why was an exception made in this case?”

NOBLE feels that America should be asking itself: “Would you want your 5-year-old daughter, granddaughter or niece handcuffed and forcibly taken away from school for having an apparent temper tantrum?”

“We believe few parents, grandparents or other relatives can honestly answer this question in the affirmative,” Edwards said.

In addition, NOBLE wants each of the following questions to be carefully examined by all of the individuals who have a role in the management of school operations and public safety in the City of St. Petersburg:

1. What has gone so wrong in St. Petersburg that school authorities and some police officers now feel that it is acceptable to arrest and handcuff 5 year olds?

2. Why did these teachers display so little evidence of compassion, understanding and love in responding to an obviously out of control child?

3. Why did the mother of this child refuse to immediately be responsive to this situation when notified of it?

4. Where were the city’s social service agencies?

“There appears to be a disturbing trend in school systems across America, abdicating their responsibility for enforcing discipline in favor of a law enforcement approach which inevitably brings children into the criminal justice system before they have even reached the age where the law recognizes that they have the ability to distinguish good from evil. This very disturbing trend must stop,” Edwards proclaimed.

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Joseph Akers
NOBLE
703-658-1529
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