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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 29, 2015 04:49 PM
From: Representative Cherelle L. Parker
To: All House members
Subject: Protocol for Arrests of Parents with Minor Children
 
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to minimize the traumatizing effects on minor children when a parent or guardian is placed under arrest.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, approximately 81,096 children currently have a parent incarcerated at a state correctional institution. (This number does not include the number of children who have a parent incarcerated at a county correctional facility.) At some point, these parents were placed under arrest, many of them in the presence of their children. The arrest of a parent can be a traumatic experience for a child, whether the child is present or later learns that the parent has been arrested, potentially causing psychological damage and/or leaving the child without his or her primary caregiver.

To provide for a child’s welfare during a parent’s arrest, this legislation would require a law enforcement officer to inquire upon arrest whether the arrestee is the parent or guardian of any minor children whose safety or well-being may be impacted by the arrest.

This bill would further require the Pennsylvania State Police, the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC), and the Department of Human Services to develop an arrest protocol, which would consist of guidelines and training programs that address how law enforcement officers should proceed when arresting parents or guardians of minor children. The protocol would include:
  1. Procedures to ensure that law enforcement officers inquire whether an arrestee has any minor or dependent child who may be present or at another location at the time of arrest.
  2. Procedures for the proper arrangement of temporary care for children to ensure their safety and well-being.
  3. Education on how the effects of witnessing a violent crime or other event causes emotional trauma to children and how law enforcement officers can assist in mitigating the long-term effects of the trauma.
Finally, the legislation would require law enforcement officers to receive training in handling arrests of parents or guardians of minor children during their basic training class and annual in-service training.

Please join me in protecting the safety and well-being of minor children when their parents or guardians are arrested.

Thank you for your support of this important legislation.



Introduced as HB763