Sher­iff plans to re­duce youth ar­rests

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State -

dis­cus­sions with lo­cal ad­vo­cates, ac­cord­ing to Sher­iff John Mina.

“We be­lieve that by giv­ing [deputies] a lit­tle more dis­cre­tion in those cases, where there’s no in­jury and we can cool the sit­u­a­tion down, … it will dras­ti­cally re­duce the num­ber of ar­rests,” Mina told the Or­lando Sen­tinel in­ter­view.

He added the agency

in an

is pro­jected to re­duce last year’s youth ar­rest num­bers “by half.”

The pol­icy change was an­nounced in a re­cent op-ed writ­ten in re­sponse to a spe­cial re­port by the Or­lando Sen­tinel, which re­vealed in­con­sis­tent uses of ju­ve­nile civil ci­ta­tions across the state. In the 2018-19 fis­cal year, Or­ange County school re­source of­fi­cers is­sued civil ci­ta­tions in twothirds of cases in­volv­ing first-time mis­de­meanor of­fend­ers, of­ten for school­yard fights. Out­side of school, civil ci­ta­tions were is­sued 21% of the time in 2019 for most of­fenses, and al­most never in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases, ac­cord­ing to Depart­ment of Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice data.

Cur­rently, deputies fol­low a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy for do­mes­tic bat­tery, which in youth cases of­ten in­volve a mi­nor scuf­fle be­tween fam­ily mem­bers, like when a mother takes a cell­phone from their child and “he tries to grab for it [and] breaks mom’s nail, [which] is tech­ni­cally do­mes­tic bat­tery,” Mina said.

The Sher­iff’s Of­fice recorded 240 do­mes­tic bat­tery ar­rests in 2019. Pros­e­cu­tors opted not to file charges in nearly three-quar­ters of those cases, a DJJ anal­y­sis shows. Mina said the COVID-19 pan­demic has de­layed mak­ing the


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