For the past few years, law enforcement officers in the U.S. have been dogged by troubling allegations. Liberal activists claim that police abuse is common, that innocent people are often manhandled by overly-aggressive cops. A Florida mother added her cries to the litany of complaints last week after her 7-year-old son was filmed being led away in handcuffs.
Mercy Alvarez was forced to watch as her son was dragged out of school by a uniformed Miami-Dade police officer. “Do not worry, my love,” she told the frightened boy.
Alvarez’s concern is natural, but her discomfort doesn’t mean that the officer should be castigated. In the post- Black Lives Matter world, people often seem to forget that police officers have difficult jobs. The Miami officer didn’t handcuff a child because he gets a kick out of making children cry, he did it because he was called to the school. Alvarez’s son allegedly attacked a teacher.
The child was brought not the police station, but the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
“Due to a great concern for the student and to ensure his safety and that of those around him, he was restricted according to the Baker Act and transported to the hospital to be evaluated,” said Jackie Calzadilla, a spokesperson for the school district.
The school claims that the child became unruly during lunchtime. A teacher tried to discipline him, resulting in him punching and shoving the teacher. The school says that the little boy continued to fight after he was restrained, and administrators had no choice but to call the police.
“This is police abuse; a whim of the officer, because my son was calm when they came to look for him,” Alvarez complained. “The principal, the counselor, and two other people tried to prevent that action and the officer took the child anyway.”
Police interactions with children are inherently controversial. Some people believe that force should never be used with underage suspects, that violent children should be allowed to exert themselves physically without fear of repercussions.
However, that point of the view ignores the harm that the boy caused. The unnamed teacher, who is pressing charges against the student, says that she was knocked to the ground during the ordeal. She claims to have been as frightened as he was by what happened. Her injuries aren’t lessened because they were inflicted by a child.
Florida state law dictates that if a misbehaving minor meets certain behavioral criteria, officers are legally required to detain the child and submit him for a psychiatric evaluation.
According to the Daily Mail: “The boy has had a history of disciplinary problems. Last November, he was suspended for 10 days after he threw a tantrum, according to school officials. His parents say that the reason for his misbehavior is that he was being bullied at school.”
School discipline is a touchy subject. However, it’s hard to argue that Alvarez’s son was treated unfairly if you trust the account given by the school and the police department. Educators aren’t trained to deal with violent students. If a child becomes too unruly to be restrained, schools have no choice but to seek outside help.
Alvarez insists that her little boy is perfectly healthy and normal, that his violent outburst at school was prompted by struggles with bullying.
“They have created a psychological trauma, and instead of fixing the problem, you are building a problem,” Alvarez told a local news outlet.
Alvarez indicated that she didn’t believe her child was strong enough to knock the teacher to the ground and has insisted that she be given access to the school’s surveillance tapes.
“This action was warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself. The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures,” explained Miami-Dade Schools Police Ian Moffett.
The Alvarez family vehemently disagrees with Moffett’s statement and plans to file a lawsuit against the school district.
“I asked them before putting [him] in the police car, ‘Let me ride with him or ‘cuff me, but not my kid,'” the boy’s father, Rolando Fuentes, said.
“My 3-year-old son came to [me] and said, ‘Dad, I’m afraid the police are going to take my brother away… I told him, ‘No it’s not going to happen.'”
The city typically doesn’t comment on ongoing lawsuits.