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Midsection Of Man With Handcuffs

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Police To Stop Handcuffing Kids Under 12 In Washington D.C.

The police department in Washington, D.C. will no longer place juvenile suspects at the age of 12 and younger in handcuffs. The department announced the decision on Tuesday, following a series of alarming incidents caught on cellphone video.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham announced the policy change Tuesday morning, saying, “The default will be not to place handcuffs on juveniles under 12.” An MPD document says officers are prohibited from handcuffing children “unless the juvenile presents a danger to themselves or others.” As for juveniles from the age 13 to 17, officers have discretion to handcuff  “based on the severity of the offense and circumstances of the interaction,” the document says.

Back in April of last year, police put a 10-year-old boy in handcuffs near Union Station. “It traumatized him real bad,” his mother told News4 at the time. “He couldn’t even sleep last night.” The department said the child was suspected of being part of a group of juveniles who stole a cellphone at gunpoint, also alleging that they didn’t realize the boy was so young. He was not charged and ended up being “totally innocent,” the District’s attorney general later said.

Later on in 2019, in November, officers detained a 15-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother for selling food on a sidewalk in Columbia Heights.

Hopefully, these new rules will discourage officers from handcuffing children for no reason–but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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