(February 3, 2017) - Hello again and welcome to another "Ask CCPD" segment! (Which means it's Friday, then the WEEKEND!) This week's question comes from Brianna through our website:
"I have done some research for a college research paper and wanted to know if the facts that I got are true. I am doing a paper on juvenile arrest. I found out that children can legally ignore you and decline any interaction with the police until their parents arrive, including a pat down for your safety. Is this true?"
The short answer here, Brianna, is no. Much of this comes back to last week's question regarding when police officers can request identification (which is not the same as arrest, of course). Can a child legally ignore us or decline interaction? If it's only a consensual encounter like a hello, absolutely they can (though we love kids, high fives and fist bumps are much better than cold shoulders!).
If an officer has reasonable suspicion that the juvenile may be committing, about to commit, or has committed a crime (again, see last week for more), then they may not. They can be legally detained until the officer's fears for the safety of persons and property in the area are alleviated. While we do always attempt to contact parents, it is not required that we do so before approaching or questioning a juvenile. Even if parents are not present, this doesn't mean the juvenile isn't afforded all the rights that adults have. If they are not free to leave and we are going to ask them questions that may incriminate them, we of course read them their Miranda rights first.
As for a pat down for officer safety, this again is no different than for an adult. The officer must have reasonable and articulable suspicion (for example, a bulge in clothing, or previous information a suspect may be armed) that the juvenile may be armed. If so, the officer can conduct a pat down of the outer clothing for weapons only. We do not need a parent present for this, as waiting for a parent would defeat the entire purpose of officer safety if the juvenile had hostile intentions.
In short, these interactions are essentially the same as with adults, with no extra requirements. In all of this the age of the juvenile is of course considered; common sense says a 7 year old is a different ballgame than a 17 year old. Our department will always attempt to contact parents anyway as a courtesy (and because let's face it, Mom or Dad can be much scarier than the cops if you've been up to no good!).
Thanks again to everyone who submitted questions, and keep them coming! This piece itself raises a lot of other potential topics and questions, can you spot them? You can submit your questions on our website by clicking on the Information tab, then clicking on "Ask CCPD". See you next time!
About the Author:
Corporal Philip Mullen is a nine year law enforcement veteran assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police and serves as Assistant Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department.
For the last 9 years, Corporal Mullen served as a Patrol Officer in our Patrol Bureau, and as a Field Training Officer, preparing new recruits for the rigors of police work over the past 5 years. Corporal Mullen is a member of the Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guard and has represented the Cape Coral Police Department across the United States. He is a recipient of two Lifesaving Awards and the department's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Phil holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Administration from Edison State College.
CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341