A Florida school resource officer has been placed on leave and faces an internal investigation after arresting two students, both under the age of 10, in two seperate incidents at school last week.
Dennis Turner, an Orlando Police Department officer, was suspended after officials say he violated policy when he arrested 6-year-old Kaia Rolle for an in-school tantrum, local station WKMG reported. Turner also handcuffed an unnamed 8-year-old student that same day.
The incident unfolded Thursday at Lucious and Emma Nixon Elementary, a charter school in Orlando. Rolle’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, said she was shocked when she got a phone call saying her grandchild had been arrested and carted off to a juvenile detention facility.
“[I asked] What do you mean she was arrested, and he said ‘there was an incident and she kicked somebody and she is being charged and she is on her way,’ ” Kirkland recalled to the outlet.
The first-grader was charged with battery after allegedly kicking a school staffer who was trying to calm her down. She was handcuffed and taken to a nearby detention center, where her grandmother says officials fingerprinted the girl and even took her mug shot.
Her outraged grandmother said Kaia, 6, suffers from sleep apnea and the lack of sleep sometimes causes her to act out. When she tried explaining this to Turner, Kirkland said he dismissed it.
The arrest and processing was ultimately stopped, however, after a police supervisor learned what was going on. Per department policy, an officer must seek a supervisor’s approval before arresting anyone under the age of 12. Turner failed to do that.
“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed,” Police Chief Orlando Rolón said in a statement. “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,” he added. “My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.”
The 8-year-old student, who was arrested on separate misdemeanor charges, was processed at the juvenile detention facility and later released into the custody of relatives, according to Buzzfeed News.
An internal investigation into the children’s arrests is ongoing.