Dennis Turner, the Orlando, Florida school resource officer who arrested two six-year-olds, including one who was having a temper tantrum, has been fired, the Orlando police department confirms.
In two separate incidents last week, Turner arrested two small children at a charter school. Upon arrest, one of the children were charged with misdemeanor battery.
According to the department’s policy, a cop must receive approval from the watch commander before apprehending anyone under the age of 12. That protocol was not followed by Turner in either scenario.
On Monday, September 23, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón announced how there was “no choice” but to fire Turner, as he violated department policy.
“This will not stop,” said Rolón about the decision to fire Turner. “But at my level, I have the opportunity to be able to exercise that and when I came in today, I knew there was no choice here. He was going to be terminated.”
Initially, Turner was suspended while an internal investigation was conducted.
“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed,” said Rolón in a statement on September 22, according to NBC News. “As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me.”
One of the children was Kaia Rolle, a first grader at Lucious and Emma Nixon Elementary Charter School. Her grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, received a call from the school that Kaia was arrested and taken to the juvenile detention center on Thursday, September 19.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, she was arrested?,’ recalled Kirkland. “They said there was an incident and she kicked somebody and she’s being charged and she’s on her way.”
WTSP reports a staff member attempted to grab Rolle’s wrists to calm her down when she responded by kicking someone. Kirkland’s granddaughter was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a cop car. She was charged with battery, according to NBC News.
Turner arrested the young girl for acting out in class, reportedly a side effect due to sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start throughout the night repeatedly.
“He says, ‘What medical condition?’ ‘She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,’ and he says, ‘Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don’t behave like that,’” mKirkland described.
The small girl was almost processed at the detention center before a supervisor caught wind of her arrest, allowing her to return to school before being booked.
In the second instance, Turner arrested a young boy, whose name has not been released, at the same charter school. After that six-year-old was processed, he was later released to a relative’s custody.
The children’s records will be wiped clean, as State Attorney Aramis Ayala confirmed her office would not pursue charges against the minors.
Officer Rolón described how the incidents made him “sick to his stomach.” He extended apologies to the children and their families.