Our Opinion: It Took About 10 Years For The New York Police Department’s Finest Officers To Catch Up With The Cesspool Of The Tallahassee Police Department

The Tallahassee Police Department handcuffed and arrested a 8-year old kid less than 10 years ago.  It took NYC cops, who were great cops when I was there in the mid-80′s, almost a decade to catch up to TPD Antics and Corruption.


Police State Trend: Arresting Young Children for Fighting

October 6, 2004 | Tallahassee Police in Florida have arrested two boys, one 7 years old, and one 8 years old for fighting. We know everyone is breathing easier because a 4″6 7 year old weighing 60 pounds spent some time in lockdown after scratching a teacher. Don’t worry, he’s on house arrest now, so this horrible criminal won’t be roaming the streets.

Police arrest boy 8-year-old after scuffle

8-year-old handcuffed, charged with battery

By James L. Rosica
Tallahassee Democrat | October 6, 2004

It was a typical scuffle between two youngsters – some name-calling, a slap on the face, a punch to the stomach.

After it was over, however, Tallahassee police handcuffed the 8-year-old boy who picked the fight and took him to a juvenile facility Monday night, charging him with misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief.

“This was children’s stuff, a disagreement between two neighborhood kids,” said attorney Kathy Garner, now representing first-grader Isaac Sutton, who turned 8 last month. The boy’s case was made public by his mother, Pamela Kelly.

“He just needs a good talking-to,” Garner said Tuesday. “This doesn’t need to be handled in the judicial system.”

Assistant City Attorney Rick Courtemanche, the Tallahassee Police Department’s legal adviser, said the arresting officer decided there was enough evidence to arrest the 4-foot-10, 70-pound boy. And city policy requires officers to handcuff juveniles when taking them to the county’s Juvenile Assessment Center, he added.

But the boy’s arrest raises the usual questions about arresting kids, including: At what age is there criminal intent?

Isaac’s arrest comes about a month after Jefferson County deputies arrested a 7-year-old Monticello boy, charging him with battery in the hitting of a classmate, a teacher and a principal, and scratching a school resource officer.

Johnnie Lee Morris was placed on house arrest and faces expulsion from Jefferson Elementary School, where he was in second grade, reports said.

Here’s what happened Monday in Tallahassee, according to the juvenile arrest report provided by his mother:

The 10-year-old victim, whose name was not released, said he was playing basketball Monday evening at the Tallahassee Housing Authority’s Pinewood Place development. Isaac walked up and called him “a black chocolate chip.” The victim said, “You are.”

He then tried to walk away, but Isaac kept taunting him that he would hit him, until the victim said, “Try it.” Isaac slapped him in the face. The victim then picked up a rock.

Isaac’s 14-year-old sister, who was nearby, said she ran over to break up the fight, putting the victim in a headlock so he would drop the rock. Isaac punched the boy in the stomach, and everyone went their separate ways.

The victim’s mother later called police, and Officer Aaron Scott went to their home to interview them. Scott joined the force in August 2001, records show.

Scott also talked to Isaac and his sister, who live down the street from the victim. The sister’s story matched the victim’s, though she said she did not know who started the fight.

Isaac denied being in the fight, but admitted bending the victim’s tennis racket while the boy was playing basketball. Scott – who did not return a call for comment – arrested Isaac and took him to the juvenile center, where he was released to his mother after midnight.

Gordon Waldo, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, said there’s no bright line between playground fighting and criminal behavior when it comes to pre-teens.

“At least not one that everybody would agree on,” he said. “In my day, we were just taken to the principal’s office.”

In this case, “there was violence involved, and those kind of acts have been responded to (by police) more forcefully in the last 10 years,” Waldo said.

“But it sounds like something that was responded to more harshly than what would suggest,” he added. “My gut response is that this was an overreaction.”

Added Bryan Loney, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at FSU, “You don’t often see elementary-school children taken away.”

What Loney wants to know is, “Is this an isolated event? Is there a history with these kids fighting? Is this a kid with a history of impulse control?”

Kelly, Isaac’s mother, said this was her son’s first brush with the law. He has no behavioral or mental health problems, but does have a reading disability that kept him back in school, she said. She also guessed that the fight started because the victim earlier had spit soda at her son.

Now, it’s up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide whether to prosecute Isaac, who attends North Florida Christian School. The prosecutor assigned the case was unavailable Tuesday.

But, either way, he’s not getting off lightly.

“Oh, he’ll get punished, trust me,” Kelly said. “Just like we did when we were little. You know, I was taught you’re not supposed to fight each other, you’re supposed to get along.”


7-Year-Old Arrested for Assault

MONTICELLO, FL-September 29, 2004 — The mother of a seven-year-old Florida boy says he’s too young to have been arrested, booked and taken to a juvenile facility.

Sheriff’s officials in Monticello say they didn’t have a choice because a warrant for battery charges had been issued for the child. He’s four-foot-six and weights 60 pounds.

He’s accused of hitting a classmate, a teacher and a principal, and scratching a school resource officer. But the boy’s family has retained a lawyer and disputes the official account of what happened. The lawyer says the boy has an attention deficit disorder

The mother of Johnnie Lee Morris – whose name was released by the attorney – says he was held in detention for several hours.

The boy is under house arrest.


7 Year-Old Boy Handcuffed for $5 ‘Robbery’

By Alison Silveira, Paralegal, Racial Justice Program, ACLU at 3:01pm | ACLU.Org

Five dollars is apparently all it takes to land a 7-year-old in handcuffs in a New York City public school these days.

Parents across New York City awoke Wednesday morning to the news that Bronx third-grader Wilson Reyes was pulled out of class, handcuffed and interrogated over the course of 10 hours at his elementary school, and later, at a local precinct. Reyes was charged with robbery after someone said he grabbed $5 that a classmate had dropped on the floor, causing a scuffle among several boys.

Playground disputes that once amounted to a trip to the principal’s office have long since come under police jurisdiction in New York City, where over 5,000 agents assigned to the School Safety Division roam public school campuses under the auspices of the NYPD.

When Reyes’ mom was finally allowed to see her son, the New York Post reports, she found him handcuffed to a wall at the NYPD’s 44th Precinct, where she says he’d been interrogated and verbally abused for six hours. The shocking photo she took of her son in cuffs made front-page news on Wednesday.

Another student eventually admitted to taking the money, but it was well after Reyes had spent 10 hours handcuffed, interrogated and humiliated by the police. A police source told the NY Post that officers were responding to “a 9-1-1 call of a robbery and assault.”

Though shocking, Reyes’ story is far from unique. When police officers are involved in disciplining minors, a classroom disruption involving an “unruly” student can quickly escalate into a call for police back-up.

Nearly 900 arrests were made at New York City public schools during the 2011-2012 school year, and 90 percent involved black or Latino students, according to an analysis of NYPD data released last year. Another 1,666 summonses were issued for illegal conduct.

New York’s public school students are dragged out of classrooms and cafeterias by police officers for shouting in the hallways or scribbling on desks. Court summonses and assault charges are levied for playground fistfights, and students are carted from schools to precincts for the fear-inducing offense of carrying a cell phone on school grounds. In a number of cases, officers have also used excessive force to arrest children for violating school rules, at times leaving injuries requiring hospitalization.

That’s why the ACLU – along with the New York Civil Liberties Union, and law firm Dorsey & Whitney – is suing the City of New York on behalf of the city’s public middle and high school students, accusing the NYPD’s School Safety Division of violating students’ constitutional rights.

Yet the over-policing of our schools is not an issue unique to New York City.

The deployment of cops to public schools across the country epitomizes the national trend known as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” in which children of color are funneled from our public school classrooms into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

There’s Kaleb Winston, the Salt Lake City 14-year-old who was interrogated by gang police at his school because of the design of his backpack and the sketches he made for art class. Or the Kansas sophomore whose arm was broken as a cop pulled a Taser gun to help arrest him for wearing saggy pants. One Wisconsin teen was arrested and fingerprinted for allegedly stealing a chicken nugget meal in the school cafeteria, while a Texas honor student was jailed for missing class. And then there’s the Georgia kindergartener who was handcuffed last year when she refused to calm down.

The stories are countless, and every one of them heartbreaking. In too many school districts across the country we are witnessing the increased criminalization of our youngest and most vulnerable students. Parents, teachers, principals, and mental health experts know children best. We should let them decide what’s best for their wellbeing. Putting cops in classrooms is not the answer to ensuring our children’s safety.

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