Police Officer Suspended After Arresting 6-Year-Old For Tantrum

by Morgan Brinlee

From distraction techniques to time outs, there are many ways to address a child who's having a tantrum — but arrest? That's reportedly the avenue one Florida police officer took last week when he arrested a 6-year-old for battery after she threw a tantrum at school. According to The Washington Post, the officer, who also reportedly arrested an 8-year-old in a separate incident, has since been suspended pending an internal investigation.

Meralyn Kirkland told local Orlando outlet News 6 that she'd been surprised to receive a call from her granddaughter's school Thursday, notifying her that first grader Kaia Rolle had been arrested by the school resource officer. In an interview with News 6, Kirkland said she'd been told that her granddaughter had "kicked somebody" and was being arrested and charged. Romper has reached out to the Orlando Police Department for comment.

When Kirkland attempted to explain that her granddaughter suffered from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can prevent individuals from getting a restful night's sleep, she said she was seemingly dismissed. "He says, 'What medical condition?' Kirkland told News 6 of her phone call with the school. "'She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,' and he says, 'Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don't behave like that.'" Kirkland told the news outlet that she believes her granddaughter was acting out due to a lack of quality sleep.

"No 6-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," Kirkland told local CBS affiliate WKMG.

While Officer Dennis Turner had Rolle taken to a local juvenile detention center for processing, she was ultimately released and returned to school without being fully processed after officers there determined that Turner had not followed proper protocol, CBS News reported. The Orlando Police Department reportedly requires all officers obtain a watch commander's approval before arresting anyone under the age of 12, according to CBS News.

"The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor, and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed," Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon told News 6. "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. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations."

While 6-year-old Rolle was released without being processed, the 8-year-old child Turner is reported to have arrested in a separate incident was processed at the juvenile detention center and then released to a relative, according to NBC News. Rolon told News 6 that the transport officer involved in the 8-year-old's case was not aware that proper approval had not been obtained and thus processed the child. Details regarding that case were not immediately clear but Romper has reached out to the Orlando Police Department.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Lt. Wanda Miglio said the Orlando Police Department would conduct an internal investigation into the incidents. Additionally, Turner, who WKMG-TV reported was a part of the police department's reserve program, has been suspended pending the investigation.