(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – May 12 – The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) announced today that the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board has established a new statewide minimum standard outlining best practices for law enforcement’s interaction with minors.
“Today’s adoption of the Police-Youth Interaction standard illustrates the important collaborative mindset of the Community-Police Advisory Board,” said Karen Huey, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and chair of the Collaborative. “The desire to adopt a youth interaction standard was driven by our community members and by addressing law enforcement concerns, we were able to reach consensus to meet our community goals and provide achievable standards for law enforcement to unanimously adopt today’s standard.”
The new standard was adopted during today’s Collaborative meeting. The Collaborative has had several discussions around youth interactions with law enforcement with the understanding that a policy should carefully consider that because youth are psychologically, emotionally, and physically different from adults, they occupy a unique legal status that entitles them to special legal protections.
“Investing in positive youth interactions as part of policing gives officers the ability to stabilize the situation, and protect the safety of the youth, themselves, and the public,” said OCJS Executive Director Nicole Dehner. “This includes the use of developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed approaches to de-escalate encounters.”
To gain certification in the new standard, agencies must establish written policies governing how officers and other agency personnel interact with all youth, which includes the following provisions:
- When questioning, searching, detaining, arresting, interrogating, or interviewing youth, they shall be afforded their constitutional and statutory rights in a developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and equitable manner.
- Agencies should allow officers to exercise discretion and make reasonable age-appropriate modifications of their practices, including use of the least restrictive and coercive approaches possible, when interacting with special youth populations such as those in crisis due to mental illness or substance abuse, or those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.
- When feasible, officers should use alternatives to arrest that both preserves public safety and holds youth accountable, with arrest as a last resort. Alternatives may include the provision of warnings, referral to an appropriate community social service or mental health agency, or the issuance of a citation.
- Training for officers should include content focusing on youth development, age appropriate and trauma-informed communication strategies, de-escalation practices, and the special needs of certain youth populations.
- Agencies shall conduct a documented annual administrative review of their practices and of the data they collect on youth arrests by charge, age, race, and use of force.
The Collaborative was formed in 2015 to create uniform minimum standards for Ohio’s law enforcement agencies covering use of force and hiring and recruitment. A total of 569 law enforcement agencies have adopted the initial standards, while five agencies are in the process of adopting these standards. Eighty-seven percent of law enforcement officers are employed by a certified agency or an agency actively seeking certification. The first two standards were developed by the Collaborative in 2015 to improve the trust between citizens and law enforcement officers.
Additional standards established by the Collaborative address community engagement, bias-free policing, body-worn cameras, vehicular pursuits, telecommunicator training, employee misconduct, mass protests, and agency wellness.
A listing of agencies certified in standards is available in the 2022 Law Enforcement Certification report.
For more details, visit the OCJS website at: http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/.