Police in Schools

Video: Maryland Cops Handcuff and Berate Five-Year-Old Boy

"This is why people need to beat their kids," one officer remarked.

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Body camera footage released last Friday shows Maryland police officers berating, threatening, and briefly handcuffing a five-year-old boy who had wandered away from school without permission.

Two officers from the Montgomery County Department of Police picked up the child after he left school grounds in January of last year. According to statements in the video, the boy allegedly was disruptive in class, threw objects, destroyed school property, and struck a teacher. 

"This is why people need to beat their kids," one officer remarked as they returned the child to school. 

"I hope your momma lets me beat you," the officer remarked again as the boy began wailing in a school office. The officer then bent down and screamed several times in the child's face.

After the mother arrived at school to retrieve her son, the other officer pulled out a pair of handcuffs and briefly put them on the boy. "You know what these are for? These are for people who don't want to listen and don't know how to act," the officer said.

As Reason reported Friday, Maryland is one of several states across the country where bills have been introduced to raise the minimum age of arrest in response to public outrage over young children being handcuffed and arrested. 

"It made me sick," Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando said in a press release about the incident. "We all saw a little boy be mocked, degraded, put in the seat of a police car, screamed at from the top of an adult police officer's lungs, inches from his face."

Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that would divert children under 13 who commit nonviolent misdemeanors away from the criminal justice system. 

Earlier this year, the city of Rochester, New York, released body camera footage of officers pepper spraying a handcuffed 9-year-old girl

Last August, body camera footage emerged showing officers in Key West trying to handcuff an 8-year-old boy whose wrists were too small for the cuffs. An Orlando school cop made national headlines in 2019 when he arrested a 6-year-old girl for allegedly throwing a tantrum in class.

Civil liberties groups say school arrests, suspensions, and the use of physical restraints disproportionately impact minority youth and children with disabilities.

The boy's mother filed a lawsuit in January over the incident.

The Montgomery County Police Department said in a press release that the two officers in the video were the subject of an internal investigation, the results of which are confidential under Maryland law.

"Both officers remain employed by the Montgomery County Department of Police," the department wrote. "Due to pending litigation, the department has no further comment."

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  1. I’ll bite, C.J. How would *you* handle these situations?

    1. I can’t speak for CJ but here’s what a reasonable person would do.
      – Pick up the kid.
      – Return the kid to the school.
      – Be neutral and non-judgemental along the way.
      – If the kid behave violently in your presence, react to stop the violence using the minimum necessary force.
      – Let the parent discipline the child.
      – If the parent refuses to discipline the child and the disruptive behavior persists, that is grounds for the school administration to expel the child. It is most explicitly not grounds for police brutality.

      One of the things that I definitely would not do is react with verbal abuse the way the cop did. Any child psychologist will tell you that’s both inappropriate and completely ineffective. “Scared straight” barely works at all and doesn’t work in the slightest on children who do not yet understand the connection between their behaviors and the abuse they are suffering. That’s a tactic that might work on teenagers. A 5-year-old? That was just stupid. There is no justification for this cop’s abusive over-reaction.

      1. If the kid behave violently in your presence, react to stop the violence using the minimum necessary force.

        Ah, yes. Simply do that.

        1. Handcuffs is a pretty minimal use of force necessary to restrain someone. I mean, maybe zipties would be less forceful but you wouldn’t want to out yourself as an insurrectionist. Tranquilizer darts or knockout gas would probably be less forceful, but given officers’ general level of competency, I’m not convinced they would be less lethal.

          1. Are you arguing that, in this case, the handcuffs were necessary?

            1. Are you saying that, in this case, the handcuffing was more violent than tossing the kid in the back seat and belting him in?

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      2. I do know a bit about what happened. The kid did not ‘wander’ away. He apparently trashed a class room (throwing everything he could pick up) and then left the school in huff. In this county, the teachers have been instructed to never touch a kid unless defending the health and safety of another. Pending re-training (which hasn’t happened in over a year). Also the teachers may not follow the kid off campus.
        Apparently the kid is also a bit much for the parent to handle.
        What the kid (and parent) needs is outside help, doctor, psychiatrist, counselors, etc. Not only is that “not a cop” but cops don’t even know who to point the parents to.
        BTW, in the background you see the principle letting all this happen.

    2. How about by not acting like the kid’s parent? LEO’s enforce laws and keep the peace. They aren’t surrogate parents.

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    4. Maryland Cops Handcuff and Berate Five-Year-Old Boy
      “This is why people need to beat their kids,” one officer remarked……….MORE DETAIL.

    5. It was a five year old boy. I was briefly a kindergarten teacher in a different era. If you can’t handle a five year old boy without screaming at him, let alone not cuffing or beating him, you’re a failure as a human being.

      I had a very disruptive student. He had issues. He hit me. Tried to bite me. But not once did I scream at him, put in him handcuffs, threaten to beat him, etc. Because he was a five year old boy. I do wish I had had more training with how to deal with him, but regardless, I never screamed at him or put him in cuffs.

      You hold the child until he calms down.

      If the child continues to be disruptive then there are other options. But none of them involve handcuffs or screaming.

      Now I was not cut out to be a teacher. But even so I never screamed at any five year olds. I mean jeepers. If you think what the cop did was appropriate, then stay the fuck away from children.

      1. Montgomery county school’s lawyers have specifically instructed the teachers not to touch the kids (presumably they could to defend the other kids). So no holding until he calms down. Also they cannot force the kid (even 5 yr old) to stay in school. And finally, they are not allowed to follow the kid off campus.

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    7. Maryland Cops Handcuff and Berate Five-Year-Old Boy
      “This is why people need to beat their kids, one officer remarked…………MORE DETAIL.

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  2. The cop is right, parents refuse to discipline their kids. Even worse, they put them in ‘treatment’ that only teaches them to have meltdowns and other antisocial behaviors. But there are billion dollar industries that profit from this dysfunction (e.g. teachers unions, mental illness and big pharma), so it’s nearly impossible to fight. Even the cops know which side their bread is buttered on, in the long run.

    1. The cop was an asshole taking out his frustrations on a 5 year old kid.

      1. Cops. But yes, it’s really that simple.

      2. The cop was an asshole taking out his frustrations on a 5 year old kid.

        Two cops and as far as “asshole cops taking out their frustrations” goes, it was surprisingly pedestrian even if the “victim” was only a 5-yr.-old.

    2. But there are billion dollar industries that profit from this dysfunction (e.g. teachers unions, mental illness and big pharma), so it’s nearly impossible to fight.

      You left out the legions of nannies and concern trolls that will conflate every corner-case, half-justified use of forcible restraint with unsolicited violence.

    3. In this case the mother has said she cannot handle the kid anymore. She needs outside help (doctor, counslers, etc.).

  3. Cop shouldn’t have yelled or screamed. He shouldn’t have threatened anything about beatings.

    But I have zero issues with a cop demonstrating that if the kid doesn’t learn to follow basic rules of civility he will end up in handcuffs and ultimately prison.

    I taught my own stubborn son that way, and even taught him that if he refused to go to school, that it would be me and his mom in handcuffs for that one.

    1. And what punishment do cops get when they don’t learn to follow basic rules of civility, let alone laws, like stealing $225,000 during a search, shooting dogs, raping prisoners, or murdering prisoners, handcuffed and in the back seat of the patrol car?

    2. At what age did you teach your stubborn son that lesson? I’ll bet it was considerably older than 5. I’ll also bet that you were rather a lot more rational and articulate in the conversation and that you didn’t put your kid into an emotional shut-down that prevented the message from getting through.

      More to the point, the mom was already present when the cop did that. That was a wildly inappropriate usurpation of the parent’s responsibility.

      1. It damn well be before age 5

      2. put your kid into an emotional shut-down that prevented the message from getting through.

        What message wasn’t getting through? If it wasn’t getting through, then what does it matter what the message is? I agree that the officers’ emotional reaction was fruitless or wasted, but a) I don’t entirely agree that the response was for the child’s benefit and b) don’t believe that it had any real bearing on anything else that may be construed as constituting “the message”.

  4. “This is why people need to beat their kids,” one officer remarked.

    And Imma gonna say, he ain’t wrong.

    1. Of note: *she* ain’t wrong.

      Admitted that, in many eyes and situations, a pig in blue is a pig in blue, but in other eyes and other circumstances, a black woman in blue isn’t a white man in blue.

    2. Please stop promoting child abuse.

  5. Hey CJ, what does “Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that would divert children under 13 who commit nonviolent misdemeanors away from the criminal justice system.” … have to do with this case: “the boy allegedly was disruptive in class, threw objects, destroyed school property, and struck a teacher”? What aspect of “nonviolence” is that?

    Eh. So much wrong here. Statist school systems, boorah! We must save them from competition and homeschooling threats!

    That kid does not belong alongside other humans. Not sure beating him would help. Not sure sending low-IQ bullies to deal with 5-year olds is such a great idea either.

    How about the school just says: “Stay the hell home, kid.”

  6. Kid disrupts class, throws fits, throws items, destroys property, strikes teacher, runs away from school – and the cop is the problem?

    Who is supposed ro go after kid who runs away feom school? Are they supposed to let a 5yo sociopath wander the streets until he is run over, kidnapped, or injures himself destroying someone else’s property?

    How many of you saw video of the Uber Eats carjacking murder this weekend? 13 yo climbs out of car she just flipped, beside owner’s dead body, and is upset she cant go back in for her phone

    1. 1. Great name.
      2. Yes, the cop is the problem here.

  7. This is the result of a boy being raised by a lone mother. Fathers in a family that are committed to their children would not put up with a kid like this. This kid didn’t suddenly become violent and not able to be handled. It happened over his life time. A 5 year old boy may not have the mental ability of an adult but they can certainly be trained. My first concern would be that a 5 year old had to have the police called in the first place. Children like him are a failure just waiting to mature.

    1. There are many assumptions in your post, and all I will say is that there are many parents who are worse than useless. There are fathers who are better off gone, as they directly or indirectly cause this sort of behavior.

  8. Both the cops involved in this incident were Black, as were the child and the mother. Just sayin’.

    Yeah. That makes me racist.

    1. Does that change our view of the situation? I admit at first when I’m told “cops” I automatically think of beefy white dudes unless explicitly told otherwise.

  9. When Alfred Hitchcock was 6, his father gave him a note and sent him to the local police station. The cop read the note and put the kid in a cell. Hitchcock was locked up for five minutes. It pretty much scared him straight.

  10. Years ago I was attacked by a 7 year old boy who I stopped from pinching a 1 year old girl. He kicked and punched me. I was surprised by the attack and smacked him in the face. (Not hard, just a warning shot). He went nuts and attacked like a crazy person. I blocked his blows, which probably hurt his legs and arms a little. He kept coming so I knocked him down on the grass. He started crying and ran to get his daddy. I stood my ground and the dad never showed up. Nor did the cops. I didn’t yell at him though so I win. If it happened today, I would be smart to leave the 1 year old to her fate.

  11. What kind of fucking moron calls the cops on anyone, let alone a 5year-old. And 50 cops show up? There are too damn many coos. Period.

  12. Oh, great, an infomercial where everyone involved is a spokesperson for contraception and even Antinatalism.

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