WASHINGTON — The Metropolitan Police Department has announced a new policy that will prohibit the arrest of juveniles 12 years old or younger.
The initiative is in an effort to limit the number of juvenile arrests in the city, MPD said.
The department said they've recognized that juveniles and adults are both physically and psychologically different. And in cases where there is an interaction with an officer and juvenile, they believe that can have a significant impact on the youth.
MPD said they want to make sure that juvenile encounters with police are respectful and that officers are aware of the developmental differences in young people.
MPD plans to provide officer training such as de-escalation, adolescent brain development, and trauma-informed policing to better protect and serve the residents and young people in the District.
“Each interaction with a juvenile is an opportunity to strengthen community relationships while protecting our youth,” stated Chief of Police Peter Newsham. “The nature and circumstances of contacts with police can have a lasting impression on a young person. The policy enhancements are a reminder to our members to always treat individuals, regardless of their age, safely, respectfully, and with the best possible service.”
In November 2019, a video circulating on Twitter showed an incident between D.C. police and 15-year-old Genesis Lumes who was allegedly selling plantain chips and grilled corn on a Columbia Heights sidewalk without a permit. In the video, police were heard saying "hold her" while Lumes tried to hold on to a younger child's hand as she screamed and cried.
During a family press conference, Lumes said the situation "terrified" her and said she had to go to the hospital after the incident.
Although the new policy states that arrests won't be made against juveniles 12 and under, arrests against juveniles 13 to 17 years of age remain up to the officer's discretion.
Each officer will be given a hotline number, provided by the Office of the Attorney General, to consult with a Juvenile Supervisor about juvenile arrests, MPD said.
In conjunction with the OAG, the department aims to protect and serve the residents of D.C., including juveniles, regardless of whether they are crime suspects, victims, or witnesses.
To view the full policy, click here.