- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The controversial handcuffing of a 9-year-old girl has led to changes in the way Portland police handle very young suspects.

Under new guidelines that took effect this week, children under 12 are not to be handcuffed unless they’re combative or threatening. Officers also can’t take children under 12 to the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Hall except for serious crimes. If they intend to do so, officers and their supervisors must first consult the on-duty supervisor at juvenile detention.

The 9-year-old was dressed in a bathing suit when she was arrested in front of her home in May 2013 for an alleged assault that occurred nearly a week before. The Independent Police Review Division, the intake center for complaints against police, found officers violated no department policies.

The girl’s mother, Latoya Harris, appealed to a citizen police oversight panel, demanding changes in policy. Harris told the panel she was disturbed the two officers weren’t disciplined after handcuffing her daughter and taking her to headquarters to have her fingerprints and mug shot taken. The officers did not allow Harris to accompany her daughter in the patrol car.

At that meeting, Capt. Dave Famous acknowledged there was a “gap in policy,” and a work group was formed to come up with new directives.

“I think there’s a consensus among the work group that this is a huge and positive step forward for the Portland Police Bureau to ensure these types of incidents don’t occur again,” Famous told The Oregonian (http://is.gd/mckmwP ) on Thursday.

Under the revised directives, officers who temporarily detain children under 12 must notify their on-duty supervisor and document why in their reports, describing the nature of the child’s “aggression.”

The not-for-profit law firm Youth, Rights & Justice pushed for the new guidelines.

“Short of having a bright line where we just say children under 12 can’t be arrested, I think this is the next best thing,” executive director Mark McKechnie said.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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