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First, Do No Harm: Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies When Arresting Parents in the Presence of Children

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2015
52 pages
Recognizing that one of the most traumatic events a child can experience is the arrest of a parent in the presence of the child, this report presents model practices for such arrests.
Law enforcement agencies are in a unique position to limit this harm to a child in three key ways. First, modify arrest procedures to make them less traumatic for children. Second, adopt protocols that ensure children have immediate support from competent caregivers and are otherwise protected from harm in the aftermath of a parental arrest. Third, collaborate with social workers and child advocates in connecting children of arrested parents with the services they need. With these broad recommendations as a guide, this report outlines several model protocols and practices that law enforcement agencies can use in conducting arrests of parents whose children are present at the scene of an arrest. Among the topics discussed are the effects and extent of exposure to trauma and violence in children; current efforts at the national, State, and local levels to improve the treatment of children during parental arrests; and detailed model practices for improving the treatment of children during a parental arrest. Attention is give to model protocols for planning an arrest to determine whether children will be at the scene, ways officers can be attentive to the needs of the children while observing proper and safe arrest procedures, and ways in which police agencies can work with child-serving agencies to ensure that children's needs are being met while the parent is in custody. Appended supplementary information and samples of aids that can be used

Date Published: October 1, 2015