MPD’s new policy is too little too late


Graphic by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan

Handcuffing children is never acceptable. Ever. 

But of course, to the Metropolitan Police Department, it was acceptable, as seen last March when they handcuffed a Black boy who was only ten years old. And a month later in April, this time with a Black boy who was nine. And then again in November, when a Hispanic 15-year old girl on crutches was wrestled to the ground. 

To correct this behavior, DC said they would no longer handcuff children ages 12 and younger—unless of course, they posed a threat to others or themselves. A huge loophole, considering the justification for police brutality is that a civilian has somehow made cops feel unsafe. 

Even if this policy had been enacted in March, the ten-year-old was a suspect in an armed robbery. He was declared innocent by the attorney general, but based on so many stories about Black people and the police, the new policy won’t do much to help. It is easy to imagine: cops see a child as a threat, and since the policy says it is okay to handcuff children who are a danger to others or themself, it would be legal to cuff the kid. The cops would arrest them, because even if we have no weapons, even if we are children, even if we are terrified, we are always the threat.

So you see, this rule does nothing substantial. It doesn’t actually protect kids from the trauma of being handcuffed, because the prejudice of society’s so called protectors will always outweigh the reality of society’s most vulnerable. To fix the problem, they made a little policy. A little policy with tons of loopholes. A little policy that should have happened after the FIRST time this kind of experience went viral. Not the third. This little policy that is nowhere near enough.

Understand that it is a half-step in the right direction. That the headlines disclose only a part of the story. That the push to end the trauma done to young people of color cannot and should not end at words from police that are nearly empty.

We need to be more active in fighting for the children, for girls one year younger than I am now, for ten-year-olds declared innocent by the attorney general (and those who were not), for nine-year-olds that have been scared out of their minds. For the children who’s stories weren’t publicized and went unnoticed, because surely there are some. All the footage of these kids show a distinct abuse of power, and we need a policy that will strip that ability, on behalf of the children of DC.•