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Police Complaints Board Proposes Measures to Ensure Safety of Juveniles in the Care of Arrested Persons

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Police Complaints Board (PCB) today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Charles H. Ramsey regarding minors in the care of an arrested person.

A recent decision [PDF]issued by the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) highlighted the fact that MPD does not have a policy concerning the handling of young people under the age of 17 who are in the care of an arrested parent or guardian, but who are not involved in any criminal activity.

The Board found that, in the absence of a written policy, most officers take a common sense approach to reuniting a minor to the care of another responsible adult, but this approach is neither universal nor adequate in guaranteeing the health and safety of children left unattended by an arrested person.  Consequently, the Board proposes that MPD create a policy to fill this gap.

“The agency’s proposals represent a thoughtful approach to ensure that the safety of children will not be jeopardized in the event they are in the company of someone who has been arrested,” said OPC’s executive director, Philip K. Eure.  “We trust that MPD will adopt these recommendations.”

PCB issued this report and recommendations pursuant to its statutory obligation to, where appropriate, make recommendations to the Mayor, the Council, and the Chief of Police “concerning those elements of management of the MPD affecting the incidence of police misconduct, such as the recruitment, training, evaluation, discipline, and supervision of police officers.”

PCB is the governing board of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC).  PCB and OPC together form the District of Columbia’s independent police accountability agency.  The agency’s primary mission is to investigate and resolve inPidual police misconduct complaints filed by the public against MPD and DC Housing Authority Police Department (DCHAPD) officers.

Using OPC’s decision, as well as policies in effect in New York, San Francisco, and Detroit, the Board recommended the establishment of a policy to address the following issues:

  • Identification of minors present or not present at the scene of an arrest;
  • Safe transportation of minors to a suitable location;
  • The location of origin of minors, especially in the District of Columbia, which hosts millions of visitors from across the United States and around the world;
  • Reluctance on the part of an arrestee to identify minors in his or her care;
  • Verification and documentation of the identity of the temporary custodian; and
  • The role and circumstances under which child protective services should become involved.

PCB’s report and recommendations are available on OPC’s website

For additional information or questions regarding the report and recommendation, contact OPC’s Public Affairs Specialist, Melanie L. Deggins, at (202) 727-3838