Two uniformed Portland, Or., police officers showed up at the home of a 9-year-old girl last May, questioned her on the front porch about a fight at a youth club six days earlier, then handcuffed her as she stood in a blue-and-white bathing suit. the Oregonian reports. Her mother, Latoya Harris, is speaking out publicly after she complained to the city’s Independent Police Review Division and no significant discipline resulted.
Her account is prompting citizen members of a police oversight panel and youth justice advocates to press for new city guidelines that would prevent police from taking children into custody under the age of 10 without a juvenile court order. In last year’s episode, officers drove the girl to police headquarters downtown, where she had her fingerprints and mugshot taken. Harris couldn’t believe what was happening as she watched the officers head off with her daughter in the back seat. The girl was still wet after running through a neighborhood sprinkler, wearing flip flops and a pink Velco wrap-around towel over her swimsuit. “When they put handcuffs on, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,’ ” Harris recalled this week. “The look on my daughter’s face went from humiliation and fear, to a look of sheer panic.”