Last week 6-year-old Kaia Rolle was arrested by school resource officer Dennis Turner for her behavior at school. The 6-year-old was handcuffed by Turner and taken to a Juvenile Assessment Center on a battery charge. Surprisingly, Rolle wasn't the only child arrested by Turner that day. Another 6-year-old boy was also arrested by the same resource officer.
Rolle's grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland explained to Click Orlando that she was shocked when she received a phone call from Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, an Orlando charter school that her granddaughter attends, explaining that Kaia had been arrested. Kirkland explained that Kaia was sent to the office for bad behavior and once there she kicked a school employee who tried to calm her down by grabbing her wrists.
Kirkland told the news station that she tried to explain to Turner that her granddaughter suffers from sleep apnea and her lack of sleep can often affect her behavior. "She has a medical condition that we are working on getting resolved, and he says, ''What medical condition?' 'She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,' and he says, 'Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don't behave like that,'" Kirkland said.
Kirkland was shocked when she learned that her granddaughter had been handcuffed and arrested. "How do you do that to a 6-year-old child and because she kicked somebody?" she asked. In addition to being handcuffed and arrested Rolle also had mugshots taken. "A literal mug shot of a 6-year-old girl," Kirkland commented.
This week Police Chief Orlando Rolón announced that Turner had been terminated, while state attorney Aramis Ayala stated that she never intended to prosecute the case, but needed to wait until Monday to have it dismissed. “I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ms. Ayala said during a press conference. “These very young children are to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
“I was sick to my stomach when I heard this,” Chief Rolón said. “We could not fathom the idea of a 6-year-old being put in the back of a police car.”
He went to admit that the arrest of the children, which goes against department policy that a child under the age of 12 can not be arrested unless approved by a manager, has damaged the trust level between the police and the community.
“On behalf of myself and the entire Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families,” he said.