ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón on Sunday expressed personal concerns about an officer’s arrests of two children, on Friday without first obtaining a manager’s approval, prompting Officer Dennis Turner’s suspension.
- Officer failed to get approval for 2 arrests
- Dennis Turner suspended during probe
- Chief Orlando Rolón calls case "very concerning"
Turner was a school resource officer at an unidentified charter school when he arrested the children on misdemeanor charges stemming from separate incidents.
After the arrests, Turner was assigned to the Reserve Officer Program and his duties were suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation into Friday’s arrests.
The statement from Rolón offered a few more details about the arrests that have sparked outrage locally and across the country on social media. It also gave insight into the chief’s personal reaction to the controversial case and his commitment to excellence at the department.
“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed,” Rolón said in a statement Sunday. “As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me.”
OPD has already acknowledged Turner violated an agency policy requiring approval from a police manager called a watch commander before arresting anyone younger than 12.
“The first transport officer was not aware an approval was not obtained, and the [6-year-old] was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center,” his statement said. “The child was released to a family member a short time later.”
At some point, an OPD supervisor became aware of the unapproved arrests and “immediately corrective actions were taken,” the chief said.
“The second transport officer verified approval was not obtained and the process for the 6-year-old was stopped immediately,” Rolón said. “The child was returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.”
However, the grandmother of one of the children — a girl — told a local news station that the girl was handcuffed, fingerprinted, and photographed for a booking photo at the Orange County Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Bumby Road.
OPD said it would not release any additional information beyond what it provided in Sunday’s statement.
The grandmother’s version has spread across social media, prompting harsh criticism of OPD. Florida law prohibits police from releasing the names of the juveniles, OPD said. The agency has not identified the charter school.
How long it will take to complete Turner’s investigation is not known.
“Our Department strives to deliver professional and courteous service,” Rolón said. “My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.”
9/23/19 CORRECTION: Earlier reports from Orlando Police Dept. described the ages of the children as 6 and 8. OPD has now amended those ages. Both children were 6 years old.