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US cop suspended after arrest of two six-year-olds in school

Monday, September 23, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A police officer who arrested two six-year-old children in a Florida school has been suspended and the incident will be investigated, police said Monday.

The grandmother of one of the children, Kaia Rolle, said she was arrested after she threw a temper tantrum and kicked another student.

The incident has revived the debate over the role of police officers in public schools, 46 per cent of which have an officer present for at least one day a week.

Reservist police officer Dennis Turner arrested the two children last Thursday, the Orlando police department told AFP in a statement.

Meralyn Kirkland, Kaia Rolle's grandmother, told local media her granddaughter suffered from sleep apnea and was acting up from a lack of sleep.

She said she was contacted by the school and that she tried in vain to dissuade the police officer from arresting the little girl.

"No six-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 said.

Orlando police said the police van had turned back before reaching the juvenile center and the girl returned to school because Turner had not obtained the necessary permission from a supervisor to arrest a child aged less than 12 years.

The other six-year-old, however, was taken to a juvenile center before being released to the child's parents because the driver was not aware that he did not have the green light.

Turner was immediately suspended following the incident, the Orlando police department said.

Deadly school shootings, including one in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2012, and one in Parkland, Florida, last year, have led to an increase in the number of police officers being assigned to schools, where they are deployed to protect students and prevent violence and drug use.

Their presence, however, has proven controversial, as they can arrest children who would have otherwise been handled by school disciplinary procedures.

The reluctance of the school protection officer to confront the gunman during the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed as the officer remained outside the campus, added to the debate about the merits of having officers in schools.


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