Whitecaps

Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

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Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Do Handcuffs Fit Five Year Old Girls?

In an April 23, 2005, posting on his Huckleberries weblog, The Spokesman-Review associate editor and columnist Dave Oliveria links readers to an ABC News story headlined Police Handcuff 5-Year-Old After Tantrum - School Had Called Cops to Help With Misbehaving Girl. Dave then asked his readers to respond to his question, "Did the police do the right thing by handcuffing this little girl?"

The police department's internal affairs or administrative investigation should determine if the officers followed departmental policy and if so, did they follow departmental procedures. It should also determine if the officers acted within the allowable boundaries of discretion.

It's also reasonable to ask if the girl's conduct was even a "police problem".

I use an excerpt from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's (FLETC) 2000-2005 Strategic Plan in guest lectures to Criminal Justice students at Eastern Washington University. It's a decent and perceptive characterization of societal expectations imposed on law enforcement:

Faced with real problems affecting the very fabric of society, the United States is relying increasingly on law enforcement solutions. ... In other contexts, law enforcement officers are increasingly being called on to act as "problem solvers," taking on roles quite different from those associated with traditional law enforcement. ... While being called on to address a widening array of social problems, law enforcement agencies are also being held to heightened levels of scrutiny and accountability. In today's world an officer must ensure that his or her actions pass not only the test of legality, but they must also pass the more subjective test of appropriateness and propriety. The citizenry expects law enforcement personnel to act with professionalism and is quick to react with complaints and lawsuits when this expectation is violated.

So, my answer to Dave Oliveria's question is...I don't know.

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