MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Six of the 10 officers involved in arresting elementary students at a school in Tennessee violated their department's policies, an internal police investigation determined.
Murfreesboro Police Chief Karl Durr said the case prompted police to respond to the community's concerns with reforms, including giving officers the option to handle juvenile offenders informally, through their parents. The department also is developing a new policy for issuing citations to juveniles instead of the court-mandated practice of arresting all of them, he said.
Murfreesboro police arrested four children at Hobgood Elementary School and took them away — two in handcuffs — to a juvenile detention center in April, accusing them of being involved in some off-campus bullying weeks before. One handcuffed girl was arrested falsely, because no one double-checked her name against the juvenile delinquency petitions obtained by the school's assigned officer.
An internal investigation report showed Maj. Clyde Adkison, Sgt. Greg Walker, School Safety and Education Officer Crystal Templeton, Officer Mark Todd, Sgt. Scott Newberg and Lt. Steve Teeters were cited for violations, The Daily News Journal reported.
Adkison was cited for "unsatisfactory job performance for failing to properly supervise this event," according to the report.
Investigators found Templeton violated department policy under "unsatisfactory job performance, incompetence" because she "did not conduct a systematic and thorough investigation of the underlying incident."
Walker, Newberg and Teeters were all found to have "failed to supervise" either Templeton directly or the situation in general, and Todd was cited for misusing sick leave; he called in sick the day of the arrests saying "the stress from what was going to happen made him feel like he was having a heart attack."
The report found that most issues leading to the arrests stemmed from a failure to communicate between everyone involved. The chief said the schools and police have since established a formal communication process.
Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans said the cited officers can dispute the findings before any disciplinary action.