MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – An investigation revealed six of 10 Murfreesboro police officers violated departmental policy involving the arrests and handcuffing of several Hobgood Elementary School students.
They could now face disciplinary action, including termination.
“Discipline could include an opportunity for training,” said Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans. “It could include anything in the disciplinary process the city has set out.”
Assistant Chief Eric Cook could make recommendations for discipline to the Chief of Police for his approval or his own recommendations.
Both the internal and an external investigation by the police department also showed not all procedures were followed. The reports also revealed there was a failure of communication.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Child arrests in Murfreesboro
“A lot of the issues in the report come back to communication, internal and external communication, and those issues have been addressed over the last several months, and we’ll continue to get better as we move on,” Evans said. “We didn’t find anything unexpected in either of the reports. They were what we initial believed regarding the arrests of the juvenile.
Murfreesboro police said this has been a learning experience for the entire department, and because of that, several policy changes have already taken place.
“We’ve also stopped the practice of arresting juveniles on petitions alone,” Sgt. Evans said.
Changes also include a more informal process of reacting with juveniles and their parents, as well as better supervisor engagement.
There could be even more changes.
“We’re going to have several training initiatives in 2017, and we just want to provide the best service as possible to our community that we service every single day,” Evans explained.
It was a Facebook Live video posted by First Baptist Murfreesboro Pastor James McCarroll that helped bring this situation to light back in April.
“There was some good that came out of this for the sake of the law enforcement community and for the community at large,” McCarroll said.
Pastor McCarroll told News 2 the results of this investigation could have national implications.
“For our country, from start to finish, this has been a phenomenon prototype of how to respond to a situation where law enforcement does something that’s slightly outside of its bounds, but upon realizing it and having it addressed has made the necessary corrections to make sure the community keeps it’s confidence in law enforcement,” McCarroll said.
But he said there could be a lasting effect on the students who were arrested.
“Once an experience happens, it’s in stone. In the perfect world, this would be able to go back and erase the trauma of that day, but unfortunately as we see in most situations, there’s still going to be lingering effects. There’s still going to be some left-over emotional trauma from the situation itself,” McCarroll explained to News 2.
Despite the findings, several parents have filed lawsuits.
“There are still pending legal matters regarding this case,” Sgt. Evans said. “Much of this information is limited by what we can say due to the pending litigation as well as juvenile justice laws.”
If the officers are disciplined, they can accept the punishment or appeal.
The findings are quite lengthy. Follow the links below to read them in full: