The police chief in Milledgeville, Ga., today stood by his officer’s decision to handcuff a 6-year-old girl and hold her at the police station after she became unruly in principal’s office of her school.
“The student was never placed in a holding cell or jail cell and the student’s safety was of the utmost importance,” Police Chief Dray Swicord said today.
Salecia Johnson, 6, was sent to the principal’s office for pushing two other students and throwing items off her teacher’s desk, according to the police report.
The child didn’t go to the principal’s office without a fight. ”Johnson refused to go inside and began running down the hallway screaming,” the report stated.
Once she finally entered Principal Dianne Popp’s office at Creekside Elementary School, the kindergarten student allegedly tore items off the walls and threw furniture, striking her principal in the leg. She also jumped on a paper shredder, tried to break a glass frame and bit the door knob in an effort to escape, police said.
After several unsuccessful attempts to contact her parents, Salecia’s hands were placed behind her back and cuffed.
The responding officer cuffed the kindergartener “for the student’s safety as well as others,’” Swicord said.
She was transported to the Milledgeville Police Department where the handcuffs were removed. The girl was placed in a patrol briefing room and given something to drink, Swicord said.
Salecia’s aunt, Candace Ruff, was reached by police and agreed to pick up her niece at the station.
“She was very scared because she said she was alone by herself and couldn’t get out. She was terrified,” Ruff said.
The kindergartener was charged with simple assault and criminal damage to property.
Due to her age, she will not be prosecuted, but her case will be turned over to social services for any assistance she may need, Swicord said.
The girl’s family is furious that law enforcement got involved in what they viewed as a school disciplinary issue. ”What is the purpose of counselors and other aides in the school system when they just call law enforcement to calm a child when they act out?” Ruff said.
Creekside Elementary was unable to be reached for comment.
Salecia has been suspended for the rest of the school year, Ruff said.
“I really doubt her parents would like to send her back [to Creekside Elementary],” she said.