Murfreesboro Cops Contrite After Arresting Children At School
Apr. 21, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Murfreesboro parents and community members are outraged after an incident last week in which ten children, ages 6 to 11, were arrested at Hobgood Elementary School for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.
Details remain sketchy, thanks to Tennessee state laws prohibiting the release of information concerning the arrests of minors, but according to WKRN, the arrests were prompted by video footage of a fight breaking out at a basketball game. While the fight took place off school property, Murfreesboro police went to Hobgood Elementary School, where they handcuffed the ten children and drove them to a juvenile detention center, charging them with “criminal responsibility for the acts of another.” The children have since been released.
On Sunday, the First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro held a community meeting to address public concerns about the incident. It was attended by more than 150 angry parents and community members. In addition to the mostly African-American crowd, Murfreesboro Police Chief Karl Durr and City Manager Rob Lyons were also in attendance.
“It makes me want to fight. I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t. How would you feel if it was your child? I’m frustrated. There are innocent kids that have been arrested that have been entered in a system they have no business in,” said Zacchaeus Crawford at the community meeting, who said three of his children were arrested in the incident. Crawford alleges that he can prove that at least two of his children were not present at the fight. One of his daughters was at a party with her basketball team and one of his sons was home sick.
“If something needs to be corrected, it will be,” Lyons told the attendees.
“Out of this, we want to learn and make things better so they don’t happen again,” Durr said.
On behalf of myself and so many others, I’m sorry. I apologize. My wife has seen me cry twice. She saw me once when my grandfather died, and she saw me cry Friday. The principal shed tears, the vice principal shed tears, and the office staff shed tears.
Audience members demanded answers from the Murfreesboro police chief. Durr promised to investigate the incident, though he did not provide any details.
On Tuesday, in response to mounting pressure from the Murfreesboro community, Durr promised an internal review of officers’ actions once the department has finished looking into the incident. He also vowed to meet with area pastors who have been vocal in their criticism of the way the incident was handled by law enforcement. In a statement announcing the internal review, Durr stated,
Situations involving juvenile offenders and victims are some of the most difficult and sensitive situations that an officer must handle. Our police officers are committed to serving the community, preventing crime and helping the victims of crime. We will reinforce the practices that have worked well and correct and deficiencies or problems that become known.
Police told News 2 on Monday, “there are two sides to this story, but they can’t release many details because they have to protect the juveniles, both the victim and those accused.”