Sheriff plans to reduce youth arrests
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
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