BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Handcuffed and arrested at school. It happened to four Baltimore elementary school children.
Mike Hellgren speaks to the outraged parents of one of the little girls as police defend their actions.
Hellgren: “What did you do when you saw your grandbaby after all of this?”
Michael Vogel: “I hugged her. I actually hugged her. This is strange. They’re little kids.”
Vogel broke down when talking about the arrest of his granddaughter– one of four children Baltimore City police put into handcuffs at Morrell Park Elementary School. Three 9-year-old girls and an 8-year-old little boy were arrested.
“They were in a holding cell with a 14- or 15-year-old boy, and everytime he had to urinate, they had to turn their heads,” Vogel said.
“There was a message on my answering machine. It was the principal of the school and said, ‘I’m sorry Ms. Hammonds about the way things went down yesterday. I wasn’t here. I was at another school conference. And the police did not go by regulations,'” Loretta Hammonds, the mother of one of the arrested students, said.
But police defended their policy and say the children were charged in connection with a violent fight outside the school that happened last week where one of the young victims was forced onto railroad tracks.
“It’s our policy, regardless of the age, when a suspect is arrested by police, they’re handcuffed. And the reason is just not for the suspect’s safety but also for officers’ safety,” Det. Jeremy Silbert of the Baltimore City Police Department said.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the arrests violate state regulations, calling them appalling.
“We’re living in a city where we’re routinely criminalizing young children,” Sonia Kumar, an attorney with the ACLU, said.
“I said, ‘My God, they’re children! They’re babies!’ I said, ‘Were they crying?’ She said, ‘The little boy was crying.’ I said, ‘Why didn’t you call me?’ She said, ‘We had orders from the police not to call the parents. They said they were going to call,'” Vogel said.
“To hear my child’s been arrested for 12 hours, it killed me,” Hammonds said.
The ACLU tells WJZ they believe the arrests should have happened at the children’s homes and not at school.
The children are charged as juveniles.