A Florida school resource officer is suspended after arresting two 6-year-old children
AJ Willingham and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
(CNN) — An Orlando elementary school resource officer has been suspended after arresting two 6-year-old children and accusing them of misdemeanors in separate incidents.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Monday that her office would not prosecute the misdemeanor battery charges against either child.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” she said. “These very young children ought to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
Last week, the officer arrested 6-year-old Kaia Rolle at the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy in Orlando after she reportedly had a temper tantrum at school.
The girl’s grandmother Meralyn Kirkland told CNN affiliate WKMG the school called her on Thursday to say Kaia kicked someone and was being arrested and charged with battery.
Kirkland says Kaia sometimes experiences side effects from sleep apnea and the family is working on getting the condition resolved. She claims the first-grader was arrested, fingerprinted and had mugshots taken — however police say the child was not processed.
The Orlando Police Department oversees the school resource officer who made the arrest, and they say the situation was not handled properly.
According to the department, the arrest of any person under the age of 12 requires the approval of a watch commander, and this approval was not obtained in Kaia Rolle’s case.
In a statement provided to CNN, the police department said a second transport officer “verified approval was not obtained and the process for the six-year-old was stopped immediately. The child was returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.”
The statement also mentions the school resource officer in question also arrested another child in a separate incident.
“The first transport officer was not aware an approval was not obtained, and the (other child) was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center. The child was released to a family member a short time later.”
The officer responsible for both arrests has now been suspended, police said.
“The officer working at the school is assigned to the Reserve Officer Program and his duties have been suspended pending the outcome of an Internal Investigation,” police Chief Orlando Rolon said in the statement.
“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me. Our Department strives to deliver professional and courteous service,” said Rolon.
The Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy it had no comment on the incident Monday. Calls to Rolle’s grandmother Meralyn were not immediately answered on Monday morning.