PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A year after Portland officers handcuffed a 9-year-old girl at her home, the Police Department said Wednesday it will review three directives on taking juveniles into custody.
The announcement came hours before a citizen panel that investigates police misconduct planned to look into the May 2013 incident. The Police Department is asking for community feedback on policies regarding custody, fingerprinting and photographing, and arrest and felony processing of juveniles.
Two officers investigating a fight at a youth club came to the girl’s home, handcuffed her as she stood in a bathing suit on her porch and led her away to be processed on a fourth-degree assault charge.
The girl’s mother wasn’t allowed to accompany her in the police car, and the girl was held for an hour. Prosecutors didn’t take the case to trial.
The girl’s mother and some in the juvenile justice system called the actions excessive. They urged for rules to prevent police from taking children into custody under the age of 10 without a juvenile court order.
“When they put handcuffs on, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,’” Latoya Harris told The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/1lV3FKL ). “The look on my daughter’s face went from humiliation and fear, to a look of sheer panic.”
Harris took her story last month to the Citizen Review Committee, which had agreed to hear her testimony and that of juvenile authorities Wednesday.
Joseph Hagedon, chief supervising attorney for the Metropolitan Public Defender’s juvenile unit, said it’s concerning the girl was detained despite the fight occurring a week earlier and the girl being at home with a parent.
“It was way over the top for them to do that,” Hagedon said.
The Independent Police Review Division found the officers acted according to Police Department policy.
Sgt. Pete Simpson, a police spokesman, said officers use handcuffs as a safeguard.
Rules require juveniles taken into custody for any felony or serious misdemeanor to be fingerprinted and photographed at the forensics division, he said. Anyone under 18 is considered a juvenile, and the policy makes no age distinctions.
“We really don’t think there’s circumstances where children under 10 should be taken into custody,” said Mark McKenchie, executive director of Youth, Rights & Justice, a not-for-profit law firm that serves vulnerable children.
He and Hagedon are calling for changes in city law and police rules to require an order by a juvenile court judge before police can take a child younger than 10 into custody. Children 10 and 11 could be taken into custody without a judge’s approval only for serious felonies.