A Florida school resource officer was fired Monday after arresting two 6-year-old children without obtaining his supervisor’s approval before arresting them. According to the Orlando Police Department, one child briefly remained in custody before returning to school, while the other student was processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.
On September 19, Kaia Rolle, 6, reportedly had a temper tantrum at the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy in Orlando. School resource officer Dennis Turner arrested Rolle for battery after she allegedly kicked a staff member during her tantrum.
According to Rolle’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, her granddaughter is prone to temper tantrums because Rolle suffers from sleep apnea. After learning that her granddaughter had been arrested, Kirkland rushed to the Juvenile Assessment Center where Rolle remained in police custody.
“I asked them for her, and they told me she was currently in process of being fingerprinted. And I think when they said fingerprinted is when it hit home to me. And I’m, like, fingerprinted? And they said yes, and they escorted me into an office and on the desk in that officer were two mugshot pictures of my 6-year-old granddaughter,” Kirkland told WFTV.
In a statement provided to CNN, the Orlando Police Department said, “The second transport officer verified approval was not obtained and the process for the six-year-old was stopped immediately. The child was returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.”
The statement also noted that Officer Turner arrested another six-year-old in a separate incident but refused to provide any details of that arrest. During the second incident, police officials stated, “The first transport officer was not aware an approval was not obtained, and the (other child) was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center. The child was released to a family member a short time later.”
According to the department, the arrest of any person under the age of 12 requires the approval of a watch commander. This approval was not obtained in either case.
On Monday, State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that her office would not prosecute the misdemeanor battery charges against either child.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ayala asserted. “These very young children ought to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
“When we first learned about this, we were all appalled,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said during a press conference on Monday. “On behalf of myself and the Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families.”
Initially suspended for his actions, Turner was fired on Monday. While announcing Turner’s termination, Chief Rolón added, “There will be an investigation that will continue to unfold.”