Child being handcuffed prompts public forum at GRPD

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An emotional conversation took place on Sunday between Grand Rapids police and the community regarding officers placing children in handcuffs. It was ignited by that 12-year-old girl who was handcuffed by police because of a false report of shots fired earlier this month.

The issues talked about involve children and it’s the reason so many people say they are so intent on having their voices heard. The police department and elected officials said they’re here to listen.

Grand Rapids police said  officers are following policy when placing kids in handcuffs when answering a call.

“The biggest modification with this policy, or the existence of this policy, is us continuing to emphasize officers using discretion,” Chief Rahinsky said.

The community saying  rules need to change and that discretion makes them feel their children are unsafe.

“We’re at a point now, where this policy has to change. That means we’re going to have to hear from a lot of you tonight,” said Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack.

Dozens of people said they want action rather than conversation.

“Every two months, we go and march. And every two months someone following protocol. Make your mind up. Our kids matter too. Our black children matter too,” said one concerned parent.

A mother, who says her son was handcuffed said the situation has meant sacrifices for her other children.

“One of my boys had his championship football game. I’m missing it. Because I wanted my son to know that there’s people in the community that care about him,” she said.

The procedure at the center of this emotional conversation is relatively new.

“We’ve been training to it for about six months now,” said Rahinsky. “It’s called ‘youth interactions.”’

“We’re now encouraging officers to use their training, their experience, and their knowledge of the neighborhood, before deciding to restrain by use of handcuffing,” he said.

Police say it’s an attempt to make sure officers are able to use their judgement when it comes to handling interactions with young people.

“In the past, we’ve always trained to worst case scenario. How to safe guard both the community the police,” Rahinsky said.

But people are saying the policy leaves too much room for interpretation.

“Take that badge off for a minute,” one person said. “Do you have a child?”

Emotions ran high as families wonder how to protect their children.

“My question is, ‘What could she have done differently?’” “Because she followed all his demands, all his requests and she still was handcuffed,” one mom said. “When this police department going to change? You like being on the news all over the country?”

Commissioner  Womack asked the department to not place anyone in handcuffs under the age of 13. Meanwhile many members at the meeting are hoping it will inspire more action beyond the conversation.

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7 comments

  • Sick of the crap

    Cops on a gun shots call at night so the first thing they need to ask is how old are you….? Get real. Suddenly everyone will be claiming to be 12. Clean up the neighborhood, leash your kids, everyone respect each other and boundaries, and all of you just quit blaming the others and take responsibility for yourselves!

    • Sara

      Are you suuffering from free white and 21 ? Look it up its a real thing.

      Next im looking for accountability cops need to carry their own liability insurance and when they make choices that are not the best choices for the people then their liability insurance will take care of it not tax payer dollars.

      • Wings#1

        Sara
        Stop blaming the cops, they are doing thier JOB. Maybe if the parents were involved in their kids lives and not just when they are in trouble. These officer said if ever rethink perfect in securing the site for ALL and keeping ALL safe.
        Thank you to these Oficers for their hard work.

  • Michael

    I’m sorry but you, as a community, don’t get to decide on police policy. Experts in the appropriate fields make those decisions. Shootings by children age 10-13 aren’t as uncommon as you would think. Trying to ascertain age prior to stabilizing an unknown situation where it is believed someone has been shot is both dangerous and asinine.

    Yes you can do everything right and still be handcuffed. I’m a police officer and have been handcuffed. It’s not scary. It’s not traumatic. Being detained for everyone’s safety while an incident is investigated shouldn’t change anyone’s outlook on life. If it does the problem is with you not the officer.

  • C

    To listen to Robert S. Womack and company, you’d have to believe that the cops cruise around certain areas of the city looking for young, black children they can detain in handcuffs for no reason whatsoever. Handcuffing kids is not some form of entertainment for the police officers. I have no idea of the entire dialogue between the cops and the kids, but I’ll bet that it’s a whole lot more than ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir’, and it more closely sounds like the adults the children are familiar with every day. I’m not trying to condone the actions of the police in every situation, but these days, every single time an event occurs in which a young black person is stopped by the police with or without being handcuffed, the race card is always played. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has to remember that getting along with one’s self is easy, but getting along with others is a two-way street.

  • LoveTheUSA

    In the end, this policy, forced on the police will cause the death of one of its officers, or some child.
    Did we not just hear of a teenager killing a cop.
    This whole thing is a racist political stunt at election time, and unfortunately, the chief fell for it.

  • Tim

    That’s what happens when you don’t go public about neighborhoods becoming dangerous war zones. Tell it like it is, not all neighborhoods are safe, and it’s not the Police Departments fault.