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Handcuffing of Oregon girl, 9, spurs police review

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:19 a.m. HST, May 08, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. >> The Portland Police Department is examining how it handles juvenile suspects after uproar over a year-old case in which officers handcuffed a 9-year-old girl, a leader of the department said.

The department has set up a work group to examine its juvenile custody directives, posting the directives on its website Wednesday and inviting public comment.

"This is an area where the Police Bureau has identified a gap in policy," Capt. Dave Famous said. On Wednesday night, Famous told a citizen panel overseeing the department that he'll update it next month on the work group's progress.

The little girl's mother, Latoya Harris, is disturbed that two officers who handcuffed her daughter in May 2013 and took her to headquarters to have her fingerprints and mugshot taken were not disciplined. She appealed to the citizen panel to take some action. Portland police previously had said the officers were following police bureau policy, The Oregonian reported.

"Please make sure this does not happen to another child," Harris told the committee tearfully. "No child should be treated like that."

Two officers investigating a fight at a youth club came to the girl's home, handcuffed her as she stood in a bathing suit and led her away to be processed on a fourth-degree assault charge.

The girl's mother wasn't allowed to accompany her in the police car, and the girl was held for an hour. Prosecutors didn't take the case to trial.

Two juvenile advocates invited to the Wednesday night meeting say they found nothing in state law or current police department directives that prohibit what the officers did.

"There's no statute that says they can't do that," said Joseph Hagedon, chief supervising attorney for the Metropolitan Public Defender's juvenile unit. "That's the unfortunate thing."

Hagedorn and Mark McKechnie, executive director of the not-for-profit law firm Youth, Rights & Justice, have drafted a proposed city ordinance to change that.

Among other things, the proposed ordinance would prohibit police from arresting anyone under the age of 10 without a juvenile court order. It would also allow police to take children ages 10 and 11 into custody only on Class A or B felonies, "when there is no means less restrictive to ensure the child's appearance in court." For less serious offenses, a court order would be needed.

"When they put handcuffs on, I thought, 'Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,'" Latoya Harris told The Oregonian. "The look on my daughter's face went from humiliation and fear, to a look of sheer panic."

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SteveToo wrote:
Children under 10 could NEVER do anything so bad that they need to be arrested. LOL
on May 7,2014 | 08:41PM
2NDC wrote:
Never? Really?
on May 7,2014 | 09:08PM
bluemoki wrote:
Do you understand he was being facetious? That is why the LOL at the end of the comment.
on May 8,2014 | 06:51AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Girls mother's name is Latoya? That explains it all. Bet the victims name was Barb Smith.
on May 7,2014 | 09:37PM
hawaiikone wrote:
And I'll bet you don't even think you're racist
on May 8,2014 | 05:55AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
NanakuliBoss wrote: "Girls mother's name is Latoya? That explains it all."

That sort of racism is offensive and has no place here.

on May 8,2014 | 06:21AM
bluemoki wrote:
You misunderstand his comment - I believe he was trying to make the point that the cops were racist in handcuffing the girl. If she was white she probably would have never been arrested.
on May 8,2014 | 06:49AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
You realize that's a racist assumption too, don't you?
on May 8,2014 | 08:31AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I think it was right for the police to take extreme actions. After all, that little girl might have whacked them over the head with her kendama.
on May 8,2014 | 07:00AM
Jonas wrote:
Too bad they didn't taser her too!
on May 8,2014 | 07:55AM
ryan02 wrote:
But if they DIDN'T cuff her and she took off, what would they do? Tackle her to the ground and possibly cause physical injury? Yes, the cuffs are humiliating, but letting kids possibly make a run for it or become physically unruly is just asking for an even bigger lawsuit.
on May 8,2014 | 08:05AM
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