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Wheres The State, Strategies for Youth, 2017

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MAY 2017

Where’s The State?
Creating And Implementing State Standards For Law Enforcement
Interactions With Youth

Strategies for Youth, Inc. (SFY) is a non-profit organization that promotes positive police/youth interactions through training and advocacy.
We train patrol and school resource officers across the nation in age-appropriate, best practices for working with youth. Using a game
based approach, we teach youth how to appropriately interact with law enforcement. Since its founding in 2010, Strategies for Youth has
become a national thought leader in this area.
This report is made possible with a grant from the Open Society Foundations. It was written by Rhonda McKitten and Lisa Thurau,
Executive Director, Strategies for Youth and edited by Johanna Wald.
SFY would like to thank the following people for generously lending their time and expertise to review of this report.

Grace Bauer
Executive Director
Justice for Families
New Orleans, LA
The Honorable Jay Blitzman
First Justice, Middlesex Division of the
Massachusetts Juvenile Court
Lowell Juvenile Court
Lowell, MA
Alicia Castro
Program Associate
The California Endowment
Los Angeles, CA
Gabriella Celeste, JD
Policy Director, Co-Director
Childhood Studies Program
Adjunct Asst. Professor, Anthropology
Schubert Center for Child Studies
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
Thomas E. Coury
Executive Director
Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation
Boston, MA
Lisa Hinz
Sacramento Police Department
Sacramento, CA

The Rev. Timothy Jones
Bethany Baptist Church
Newark, NJ
Rose E. Joshua
NAACP Chicago Southside
Chicago, IL
Deborah Lashley
Executive Asst. Dist. Attorney (Retired)
Kings County District Attorney Office
Brooklyn, NY
Patricia Lee
Managing Attorney
Office of the Public Defender
Juvenile Unit
San Francisco, CA

Amy Price
Program Executive
Zellerbach Family Foundation
San Francisco, CA
Laura Ridolfi
Policy Director
W. Haywood Burns Institute
Oakland, CA
Naomi Smoot
Executive Director
Coalition for Juvenile Justice
Washington, DC
Frank Straub, PhD
Director of Strategic Studies
Police Foundation
Washington, DC

Samara Marion
Policy Attorney
Department of Police Accountability
San Francisco, CA

Kim Tandy
Executive Director
Children’s Law Center, Inc.
Covington, KY

Paul S. McMillan
Chief of Police (retired)
MBTA Transit Police Department
Boston, MA

Christine Tien, MPP, JD
Senior Program Manager, Sacramento
The California Endowment
Los Angeles, CA

© 2017 Strategies for Youth
Graphic Credits: Design by One Visual MInd


03	Introduction
06	 Defining Standards
07	 Why Standards Matter
11	 Summary of Survey Findings: State Standards for
Policing Youth are the Exception Not the Rule
16	 State Standards for Law Enforcement in Schools:
A Little More Guidance (But Not Much)
18	 Comprehensive Standards for Law Enforcement
Officers’ Interactions with Youth
23	 Conclusion and Recommendations
25	 Appendix 1: Standards Survey Form
27	 Appendix 2: CALEA and IACP Model Standards
28	 Appendix 3: State Guidance About Policies Governing
Police/Youth Interactions



The quality of our expectations
determines the quality of our actions.

Today’s youth, particularly youth of color and those living
in urban areas, encounter law enforcement officers
wherever they go. Officers patrol their streets, roam their
school hallways, supervise their dances and athletic events,
and guard many of the buildings they regularly enter.
A police station often abuts their schools, parks, and
recreation facilities.
Law enforcement officers are the gatekeepers for the justice system. They determine who is arrested, who is not,
and who enters into the juvenile justice system. These
decisions dramatically and permanently alter a youth’s
educational and professional opportunities and can have a
profound effect on the child’s overall wellbeing and health.
Given the magnitude and long-term impact of encounters
between youth and law enforcement, we would expect
state agencies to take an active and leading role in creating, issuing and enforcing developmentally-appropriate,
trauma-informed, and equitable standards governing
police/youth interactions. In particular, these standards
would emphasize specific and clear guidance, grounded in
rigorous data collection, aimed at reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) at the point of police contact
and arrest, as required by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (2002).
As part of this effort, we would also expect state agencies
to assemble diverse groups of experts and stakeholders to
draft model standards and policies that integrate best
practices for working with youth. The standards would
clearly convey expectations for outcomes to law enforcement leadership, and develop oversight mechanisms to
ensure compliance.
Furthermore, we would expect these standards, policies
and expectations to be backed up with rigorous, mandatory training for law enforcement officers who interact

with youth. Such training would ensure that officers are
well-versed in adolescent psychology and in the differences between the adolescent and adult brain, understand
the ways in which implicit racial bias contributes to DMC,
and recognize behaviors associated with exposure to poverty, trauma and violence.
Clear standards, in combination with rigorous training,
would promote a culture in which evaluation and promotion decisions are based upon officers’ ability to successfully keep encounters with youth peaceful and positive,
rather than on their arrest rates. State implementation of
these standards also would improve overall public safety
by providing officers with vital tools to de-escalate
encounters with young people.
Finally, we would expect that rigorous oversight would
reduce lawsuits and federal investigations because local
law enforcement agencies would recognize what steps
they need to take to avoid legal challenges. Strong oversight of a uniform set of standards would also prevent the

Youths differ from adults and children in three important
ways that lead to differences in behavior. First, youths have less
capacity for self-regulation in emotionally charged contexts,
relative to adults. Second, youths have a heightened sensitivity
to proximal external influences, such as peer pressure and immediate incentives, relative to children and adults and this heightened sensitivity negatively impacts a youth’s ability to make safe
decisions. Third, youths show less ability than adults to make
judgments and decisions that require future orientation.
The combination of these three cognitive patterns accounts for
the tendency of youths to prefer and engage in risky behaviors
that have a high probability of immediate reward but can have
harmful consequences, the majority of which the youth is either
unaware of or fails to integrate into their decision making
— National Research Council1

1. 	 “Summary.” National Research Council. Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.



kind of inconsistent enforcement that happens when a
youth in one town is arrested for a minor offense, while, in
the next town, he or she would receive a mild reprimand
for the same action.

The absence of common standards or of best
practices permits uneven treatment between
jurisdictions. In one town a youth might be arrested
for shoplifting, while in the next town, he or she
receives a mild reprimand for the same action.

But state agencies have never exercised this level of
engagement and leadership in establishing standards for
police/youth interactions. Rather, a survey conducted by
Strategies for Youth found that law enforcement standards
for interacting with youth are almost always developed
solely by local law enforcement agencies, with minimal
input from the state, and even less from community groups,
parents, educators, youth, attorneys or experts in adolescent development, mental health, or trauma.
The absence of state agencies’ engagement in the development of standards for police interactions with youth represents a striking anomaly. All fifty states issue standards as
well as certification requirements for other professionals
who regularly interact with minors, including childcare
providers, child welfare workers, health care providers and
teachers. For example, the Oklahoma Department of

Human Services convenes an Advisory Committee to
develop standards for the licensing of childcare facilities.
This committee includes professional stakeholders, educators, private citizens, and attorneys.2 In the context of
healthcare, the American Academy of Pediatrics has created a committee that advises the Academy’s directors on
policy development and standards related to patient care
in hospitals. This committee includes physicians, hospital
administrators, attorneys, and representatives for families
and children.3
In light of the serious consequences that can result from
hostile encounters between youth and law enforcement
officers, there is no reason why states are not similarly
engaged in ensuring that both youth and officers are protected by clear and consistent standards for officers’
encounters with youth.
The combination of inadequate training along with a dearth
of common standards leads to tragic outcomes. Only 12%

In other professions where adults are in regular contact with children—such as health care, education, and day care—the state is
heavily involved in setting and enforcing clear standards. There is
no reason why law enforcement agencies and officers are not
subject to the same levels of accountability, training and guidance.



of the 2.1 million youth arrested annually in the United
States commit serious, violent felonies. It is much more
common for youth to be arrested for minor, public order
offenses, which run the gamut from swearing at an officer
to making too much noise on public property. These types
of arrests rose 108% between 1985 and 2009. In many
states arrests for even minor juvenile offenses can carry
long-term collateral consequences that adversely impact
future education and employment opportunities.

By taking a more active role, state agencies can protect
law enforcement agencies from federal oversight, improve
outcomes for youth and make our communities safer while
preventing disparate treatment between communities.

Officers are also more likely to use force on youth than
adults. Youth are involved in 3.5% of police interactions,
but account for 30.1% of those involving force. The majority of contacts involving police use of force—81%—are
initiated by police.4

States do mandate police training. But SFY’s previous report,
If Not Now, When? A Nationwide Survey of Juvenile Justice
Training in Police Academies found that police academies typically spend only 1% or less of their total training time on juvenile
justice issues. Even that tiny proportion focuses primarily on
juvenile codes and case-law, not subjects designed to improve
officers’ interactions with youth.

It does not have to be this way. By first developing and
implementing clear and consistent standards for law
enforcement/youth interactions, and mandating training on
how to implement these standards, states could significantly reduce the numbers of unnecessary arrests and incidences of escalation and violence. This is particularly true in
regards to reducing DMC. By enforcing standards ensuring
that youth of color receive equitable treatment by police,
state agencies can take a leadership role in reducing racial
and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.
The 2013 National Center for Juvenile Justice’s report,
Juvenile Court Statistics notes black youth that year were
arrested at more than twice the rate of their white peers
and that 82% of these juvenile referrals were initiated by
police.5 These figures, consistent with other years, underscores the importance of requiring law enforcement leaders to consider the racial equity implications of their policy
decisions through data analysis, training and oversight.
We call upon all states to commit to developing and enforcing policies and standards for police/youth interactions that
are developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and
specifically aimed at reducing DMC. States’ lack of engagement in this area represents a critical missed opportunity.
By ceding all responsibility to local law enforcement agencies, states fail to provide those law enforcement agencies
with the support, technical knowledge, and oversight they
need and deserve. The lack of state oversight also means
law enforcement leaders seeking to reform their agencies
have no support at the state level.





This means that police recruits are rarely equipped to recognize
or respond effectively to youth who have been traumatized,
who suffer from mental illness, or who have special needs, even
though these are the populations at highest risk of police
contact and arrest.

Juvenile Justice Training Hours at the Academy
in Select States With High Juvenile Populations




3 hours

664 hours




540 hours



6 hours

408 hours



10 hours

494 hours



5 hours

600 hours



4 hours

754 hours



10 hours

618 hours


Source: SFY’s report, If Not Now, When? A Nationwide survey of Juvenile Justice
Training in Police Academies.

Defining Standards
The term “standard” is used in this report to define the combination of policy and practice that guides responses of law
enforcement officers to situations they may encounter.
Types of standards that qualify under this definition include
guidance about de-escalation, diversion and use of force
that articulate expectations for officers’ responses to youth.
We do not include in this definition statutes, regulations and
policies that solely require training. Training is necessary
but not sufficient by itself. Therefore, we do not consider a
statute requiring officers to receive training in de-escalation techniques a professional standard. In contrast, we
would consider a statute requiring law enforcement agencies to develop and enforce policies requiring the use of
de-escalation techniques with juveniles to be a standard.
While law enforcement agency training is vital to ensure
that officers are aware of and implement standards, training without a requirement that the instruction reflect and
integrate law enforcement agency policies is insufficient.
Standards must be the “go to” source of guidance for offi-

cer and agency conduct, integrated in training, and serve
as the framework for measuring performance.
In order to be effective, state standards must be enforceable and must be connected with oversight mechanisms.
Unlike statutes and regulations, standards do not necessarily carry civil or criminal penalties for failure to practice
them. Standards may, however, inform courts’ determinations about how members of a profession should be
expected to perform.

Professional Standard is defined as the “ethical or legal duty of
a professional to exercise the level of care, diligence and skill
prescribed in the code of practice of his or her profession, or as
other professionals in the same discipline would in the same or
similar circumstances.”



Why Standards Matter
Chiefs are responsible for developing a culture for their department by stating its values. Chiefs
expect officers to follow the value system as it is laid out in training, policies and procedures, with the
understanding that if officers violate these values and procedures, there will be consequences.
Dr. Brown was the Chair of the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) when it adopted its first set of standards. Houston was the first major
city to receive a CALEA certification while Dr. Brown was chief of the Department.

Almost all professions are guided by standards, guidelines
or rules that reflect best practices and the minimum acceptable levels of performance. In some professions, including
teaching, law and medicine, these standards are required by
state law and woven into licensing requirements.
Standards are often developed by diverse stakeholders. For
example, best practices in medicine incorporate input from
patients groups. Lawyers’ codes of ethics, such as the National
Juvenile Defender Center’s National Juvenile Defense Standards,6 were developed in collaboration with non-lawyers,
including, among others, parents and adolescent psychologists. Standards for educators are often informed by researchers, experts and student groups. Standards that are developed in collaboration with the population most directly
affected typically increase their legitimacy.

Ideally, standards and training go hand in hand. Even the
best training is not a substitute for professional standards.
For example, school resource officers in Texas are required
to receive training in adolescent development, positive
behavioral interventions, restorative justice de-escalation
techniques and mental health crisis intervention (Texas
Occupation Code § 1701-2.2(c)). Yet, there is no corresponding statutory or regulatory requirement that officers
use the techniques they are taught. In the absence of such
standards, SROs and their supervisors have the discretion to
determine how, when, or if they practice any of the strategies and tools they are taught in the trainings. In short, what
is meant to be a standard becomes merely a suggestion
unless oversight and accountability measures are included.


Statewide or national standards governing youth/police
interactions serve four essential purposes:

2. They increase consistency within and across

1	 they set clear expectations for performance,
2	 they increase consistency within and across jurisdictions,
3	 they promote accountability, and
4	 they increase legitimacy within and across communities.

Statewide or national standards, particularly those that are
enforceable, increase consistency within and between
departments and jurisdictions. This, in turn, provides communities with a clear set of expectations about how agencies and officers will interact with youth.


1. They set clear expectations for performance.
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are
local and decentralized. Their practices and policies diverge
widely. While most states set minimum requirements for
those seeking to become police officers—such as age,
criminal history and education level—they give wide discretion to the approximately 18,000 local departments in
establishing hiring, promotion and evaluation procedures.

When policies about how officers interact with children
and youth are left to the discretion of each individual law
enforcement agency and officer, youth must navigate a
confusing patchwork of inconsistent treatment. This can
mean that sheriffs treat youth one way, transit police
another, and police officers still another. Without standards
of practice, this inconsistency also occurs between officers
in the same school or agency. Uniform standards and expectations allow parents and educators to better prepare​
adolescents to interact peacefully with officers and to
understand what behaviors are expected of them.




Uniform standards should also ensure that expectations for
law enforcement agencies and officers are consistent with
recent U.S. Supreme Court and state court decisions on the
unique nature of childhood and adolescence and should
clarify expectations for officer conduct. The recognition
that adolescents are different from adults, must be
approached differently, and occupy a unique position in
the law, is not new to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S.
Supreme Court has embraced science about adolescent
development in decisions holding that the death penalty
(Roper v. Simmons) and mandatory life without parole
(Graham v. Florida, Miller v. Alabama, Montgomery v. Louisiana) cannot be applied to juvenile defendants.

Clear, comprehensive, and legally
accurate policies and training are essential
to the proper functioning of a police
department. They provide crucial guidance
for officers regarding what practical steps to
take to remain in compliance with
departmental rules and legal requirements,
allow supervisors to properly monitor and
instruct officers, and provide consistent
guidelines for officer discipline.

research informed by tremendous technological advances
in neuroimaging, to conclude that youth are more likely
than adults to make impulsive decisions and are also capable of rehabilitation as they mature. Law enforcement
standards must incorporate this understanding of adolescent development.


3. They promote accountability within departments and within the community.
Compliance with standards should be factored into hiring,
promotion and disciplinary decisions made at the departmental level. The presence of standards that include commonly accepted best practices can also help investigators or
courts determine levels of compliance by officers. The
emphasis on compliance with standards for hiring and promotion will promote an agency culture that is consistent
with best practices. When negative or problematic interactions do occur between officers and youth, departments can
point to their use of accepted standards as evidence that
they have taken steps to prevent tragic or violent outcomes.
Law enforcement agencies that adopt and implement
state standards can point to their compliance with standards if they are investigated by police accountability
boards, civilian review boards or other accountability proceedings Compliance with standards also increases police
legitimacy in the eyes of the public, even when there is no
court case pending.

The Court’s recognition that children are different predates the use of neuroimaging. In Haley v. Ohio (1948) the
Court found that police procedure used in interrogating a
15 year old boy violated the Fourteenth Amendment:
“Mature men possibly might stand the ordeal [of interrogation] from midnight to 5 a.m. But we cannot believe that a
lad of tender years is a match for the police in such a context.” In JDB v. North Carolina (2011), which requires
police to consider age and maturity in the context of custodial interrogation, the Court wrote, “[t]he law has historically reflected the same assumption that children characteristically lack the capacity to exercise mature judgment
and possess only an incomplete ability to understand the
world around them.” In all of the modern U.S. Supreme
Court decisions since 2005, the Court relied on extensive
psychiatric, neuro-developmental and neuroscience



State standards can provide an important tool for courts to
evaluate officers’ and departments’ conduct. Without
guidance from states or professional organizations, courts
rely on individualized perceptions to determine what constitutes objectively reasonable or excessive use of force.
Consider, for instance, two cases from the neighboring Sixth
and Seventh Circuits.7 The Sixth Circuit case involved two
youth, aged 15 and 17, who allegedly looked into a police
officer’s home security camera located on his lawn in Euclid,
Ohio. The officer pushed one of the boys, smacked the
phone out of his hand, and threw him to the ground where
the officer put his knee on the boy’s face and handcuffed
him.8 The Court dismissed the boy’s complaint against the
officer finding that the harm to the boy was insufficient to
create a question of material fact about whether the officer
used excessive force. In a Seventh Circuit case, a police officer took three boys into custody after one took gum out of
a car owned by a police officer. At the North Chicago police
station, the officer who owned the car shouted and cursed
at the boys, then conducted a pat down that led to bruising

and broke the eyeglasses of one of the boys. There, the
Court found that there were sufficient facts to permit the
case to go forward against the officer.9
Because court cases, by their nature, turn on the specific
facts of each incident, they are not ideal tools or substitutes for creating easy-to-apply standards that effectively
communicate the expectations of law enforcement officers and agencies. Without state or national standards for
conduct, the courts are more likely to make inconsistent
decisions which can lead to confusion about what conduct
is permitted and prohibited for officers. When such standards do exist, courts can inform law enforcement of their
expectations and agencies can train their officers regarding those expectations in a consistent manner.


4. They increase law enforcement agencies’
legitimacy within the community.
Standards are necessary but not sufficient without oversight
and accountability. State standards that are not accompanied by state systems of accountability for local agencies
would provide illusory protection. State oversight for compliance with state standards governing interactions with
youth are the cornerstones of meaningful and effective system reform. States ought to be the first line of oversight to
assist local departments to make course corrections.
Transparent standards and oversight systems that promote
law enforcement agencies’ adherence build confidence in
communities. Law enforcement agency leadership is then
responsible for ensuring compliance at both the agency and
officer level. Law enforcement leaders seeking to reform
practices would also benefit from state standards.
Instead of standing in isolation from each other and the state,
a system of state standards would raise the bar and promote
systemic oversight and improvement within and across
departments. Key to implementing law enforcement agencies’ compliance with state standards would be law enforcement leaders taking the initiative to provide training and oversight to ensure that officers are complying with standards.

7. 	 The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals includes the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals includes the states of
Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
8. 	 Patricia Bolden v. City of Euclid, No. 13-4397 (6th Cir. 2014)
9. 	 Irvin v. Kaczmaryn, 913 F. Supp. 1190 (7th Circuit, 1996).
10. 	Rutgers University Institute on Education Policy, 50 State Report on Accountability, State Intervention and Takeover.



Many states use state takeovers as a standards
enforcement mechanism for school districts:
24 states have policies that allow the state to
takeover school districts when there are
significant problems with student achievement or
fiscal responsibility.9 This mechanism is not
similarly used in state oversight of police.

Currently, the only real mechanisms for holding law
enforcement agencies accountable for complying with
standards are lawsuits. These typically address the actions
of individual officers, and investigations or lawsuits from
the Department of Justice for “pattern and practice” issues.
Many states take a firmer approach with respect to school
districts: 24 states have policies that allow the state to take
over school districts when there are significant problems
with student achievement or fiscal responsibility.10 States do
not have similar mechanisms for enhanced oversight in the
context of policing.
In light of the federal requirement that states assess and
address sources of disproportionate minority contact in
the juvenile justice system, it is surprising that state governments have not created clear guidance for law enforcement agencies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities at
the point of arrest. Such standards would increase a com-

munity’s confidence in the fairness and transparency of
police decision making. State standard would assure communities that departments are affirmatively working to
eliminate bias.
Researchers, juvenile justice stakeholders, youth and families can all inform professional standards relating to police/
youth interactions. When these stakeholders are at the
table and contributing to the language, scope, and topics
covered, the resulting standards hold greater legitimacy
among constituencies most affected than ones developed
in isolation. This process also helps to build good will
between law enforcement agencies and the community,
and to strengthen police ties to youth advocates, experts,
families, educators and other stakeholders.

If the goals, design, and operation of the
juvenile justice system are not informed by
this growing body of knowledge, the
outcome is likely to be negative interactions
between youth and justice system officials,
increased disrespect for the law and legal
authority, and the reinforcement of a
deviant identity and social disaffection.



Summary of Findings of Strategies for Youth Survey: State
Standards for Policing Youth are the Exception Not the Rule
SFY conducted a state by state survey between 2014 and
2016—a period of intense national soul searching about
police and the communities they serve-in order to:

1	 determine the existence of state standards (in the

form of statutes, regulations, model policies) to guide
police/youth interactions;

2	 determine the extent of involvement by state agen-

cies and/or state officials in developing standards for
use by police when interacting with youth, and;

3	 identify potential alternative sources that could form
the basis for statewide standards.

Background: What We Know About Adolescence
There is a vast gulf between our growing scientific understanding of developing adolescent brains and the expectations and training received by law enforcement officers
who regularly interact with youth. As previously noted,
most law enforcement officers are not trained to adopt
policing methods for youth that are distinct from those
employed with adults.
Adolescence is a time of tremendous change for young
people—physically, emotionally and socially. During the
adolescent years (which researchers define as age 14-25),
the human brain undergoes a series of structural changes.
The frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for executive functions and decision-making (weighing consequences and rewards and making logical decisions), continues to develop until the mid-twenties.11
As a result, youth are less able than adults to make reasoned decisions, particularly when they are under pressure
and do not have time to fully consider their options. The
emotional centers of the adolescent brain are twice as
active as those of adults, creating an intensity of feelings
that can override the developing thinking part of the brain.
Adolescents are also acutely sensitive to the pleasureinducing effects of dopamine, making them more likely to
seek out the excitement and sensation of risky behaviors.

Exposure to violence is a national crisis
that affects approximately two out of every
three of our children. Of the 76 million
children currently residing in the United
States, an estimated 46 million can expect
to have their lives touched by violence,
crime, abuse, and psychological trauma this
year. Whether the violence occurs in
children’s homes, neighborhoods, schools,
playgrounds or playing fields, locker rooms,
places of worship, shelters, streets, or in
juvenile detention centers, the exposure of
children to violence is a uniquely traumatic
experience that has the potential to
profoundly derail the child’s security,
health, happiness, and ability to grow and
learn—with effects lasting well into
Defending Childhood: Protect, Heal, Thrive Report of the Attorney General’s
National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence USDOJ 2012

This is also a developmental period marked by tremendous
growth and change as new neural connections that can
last a lifetime are formed.
Many behaviors that are developmentally normal for an
adolescent are perceived as disrespectful or even criminal
by teachers, parents and officers. Layered atop normal
adolescent development, many justice-involved youth
have been exposed to traumatic events, which skew their
response to threats.12 Traumatized youth may become
hyper-vigilant, overreact to minor slights, or may shut

11.	 National Research Council. (2013). Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform, Richard J. Bonnie, Robert
L. Johnson, Betty M. Chemers, and Julie A. Schuck, Eds. Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The
National Academies Press at 1-2.
12.	 Defending Childhood: Protect, Heal, Thrive, Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. at 171-191.



down entirely, appearing disengaged and disrespectful to
authority figures.
Finally, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates
that one out of every five youth between the ages of 13-18
have and/or previously had a serious debilitating mental
disorder.13 Others have noted that the most prevalent
method of addressing these mental illnesses is through
self-medication, including alcohol and drugs.
These features of adolescents, in combination with the
unique legal position they occupy, make policing youth
especially complex and require a specialized set of policies, practices and oversight.

youth-specific policies or training for officers (Connecticut, Texas). Interestingly, while juvenile justice codes in
most states offer guidance to professionals who interact
with youth at later points in the justice system, e.g. detention and trial, professional standards of conduct for law
enforcement interactions with youth are not addressed
there or elsewhere in state statutes and regulations.


Summary of Survey Findings


Below is a summary14 of our findings of state involvement
in developing and implementing standards for law enforcement agencies with youth.

•	 The state offers no vision for the methods and outcomes it seeks for treatment of its youth.


•	 State agencies have virtually no role in setting standards for police interactions with youth.

•	 Standards of practice for police officers and other law
enforcement officials are almost always develope
solely by local law enforcement agencies.


•	 Adolescent development and youth trauma are not

incorporated into the limited guidance that does exist.

•	 There are few mechanisms to involve knowledgeable
individuals to share their expertise with police, or
provide guidance on matters about which they are
highly experienced.



No state has statutes that set forth comprehensive standards for police/youth interactions. A few state statutes
provide guidance for limited situations, such as taking
youth in custody (Colorado, Mississippi, New Jersey) or
interrogation (New Jersey, New Mexico). Several others
contain general language about incorporating youth into
community policing (Colorado, New Mexico) or developing

have statutory mandates
requiring police to follow
certain standards during
interactions with youth.
have regulations governing
some police/youth interactions. (New Jersey and
have State Advisory Committees or law enforcement
commissions that created
model policies.
(Connecticut, Florida,
Maryland and Virginia)
incorporates standards for
interactions with youth in
the statewide Police/Peace
Officer Standards and Training
(POST) (California)

14.	 A description of the research methods SFY used to research and write this report are found in Appendix 1.


Regulations Governing Police/Youth Interactions

Only two states, New Jersey and Virginia, have issued regulations governing some aspects of police interactions with
youth. These regulations are limited in scope and do not
incorporate adolescent development, trauma or recent
U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
New Jersey’s “Attorney General Directive Concerning the Handling of Juvenile Matters by Police and Prosecutors” (1990-1)
provides “goals and objectives” for law enforcement officers
and includes discussion of informal handling of offenses by
police through curbside warnings and station house adjustments. Portions of the directive include mandatory language.
Virginia General Order 2-29 states plainly that the “order is for
internal use only and does not enlarge an officer’s civil or criminal liability in any way.” The order covers juvenile procedures
including confinement and custody, confidentiality, interrogations, and status offenders.

State Advisory Committees and Law Enforcement
Commission Model Policies

Only two states, Connecticut and Maryland, have issued model
policies articulating standards for police/youth interactions.
The Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee for Connecticut created a comprehensive set of model policies Children, Youth
and the Police Recommended Policies and Procedures (2015)
which provides nearly 20 pages of guidance relating to “juvenile delinquent offenders.” The policies include descriptions
of police options for addressing juvenile misconduct ranging
from a verbal warning to arrest, guidelines for use of discretion, custody and release of juveniles, interrogation and confidentiality of juvenile records.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a handbook in 2000 that provides departments with recommended
procedures, guidelines and statutes; the handbook indicates
legal “minimums” that agencies must follow but does not provide detailed standards for law enforcement officers’ interactions with youth.

The Model Policies for Law Enforcement in Maryland offers 3
pages of guidance on interrogation, and custody (consistent
with federal law) and directs officers to “make use of the least
forceful and intrusive alternative available consistent with
maintaining public safety, order and individual liberty.” The
Model Policies are available as a resource for local departments but do not require compliance or adoption. Maryland’s
policies were most recently revised in 2007 and do not
include any discussion of adolescent development or reflect
the U.S. Supreme Court decisions including Roper v. Simmons
or its progeny.15
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services provides guidelines for juvenile procedures in its Model Policies Manual for Virginia Law Enforcement. This is reviewed
and revised annually. However, these guidelines are not
enforced by any state agency.

State Police/Peace Officer Standards and Trainings

To date, 45 states have functioning Police/Peace Officer
Standards and Training (POSTs) but do not have written
requirements that officers abide by those guidelines after
the training. State POSTS do not oversee law enforcement
agencies; they oversee the training of police officers.
Indeed, SFY’s review indicates that over 90% of the POSTs
set forth training standards for police/youth interactions,
but not standards for policies and practices of the law
enforcement agencies they oversee. Thus, in these states,
it is within the discretion of individual law enforcement
agencies to implement any procedures or mandates covered during the juvenile justice component of Academy
training. It is worth noting:

• California’s POST would not make its standards avail-

able to SFY. However, SFY was able to access a listing of
the state’s POST standards through several of its
agency partners in the state. According to our analysis,
California POST offers the most comprehensive set of
POST-issued policies for law enforcement agencies
generally, and the largest number of standards for
interactions between law enforcement and youth, of
any state in the union. That said, only two of these
policies are explicitly youth-focused.

15. 	The 2016 Department Of Justice report on the Baltimore City Police Department found that the department routinely has inadequate training and policies to ensure
that officers did not violate federal law or the constitution and that their policies did not reflect the law’s recognition that juveniles are developmentally different
from adults.



National Standard Setting Organizations

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and
the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement
Agencies (CALEA) offer excellent language on certain
aspects of police/youth interactions. This language should be
used as the foundation for developing statewide regulations
and statues. (See Appendix for more detail.) But both organizations’ recommended standards are entirely voluntary. For
CALEA accreditation, agencies volunteer to become accredited. In early 2017, leadership at CALEA estimated that it had

over 1000 program enrollments, serving 5% of America’s law
enforcement agencies representing 25% of the national’s
law enforcement officers. Each accredited law enforcement
agency is responsible for maintaining compliance with CALEA
Neither organizations’ standards are binding or enforceable. Accreditation does not automatically translate to
implementation of adopted policies. For example, despite
the fact that both the Jacksonville Florida Sheriff’s Department and the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s Department are CALEAaccredited, the DOJ found a pattern of civil rights violations
against youth investigated in both departments.

We identified only six states with published guidelines or requirements
of any kind relating to police/youth interactions. While none are
binding, they do represent a foundation which can be further developed,
and used as potential models for other states.

The California Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) issues a
comprehensive set of model policies to law enforcement agencies. The
2015 version of the model policies is comprised of 10 chapters. Only
two of these policies explicitly focus on issues that arise in the context
of policing youth: Temporary Custody of Juveniles in Chapter 3, Section
324, and Juvenile Delinquency Prevention/Intervention Programs in
Section 351. Some of the other policies direct officers to respond to
children and youth in a manner distinct from responses to adults. In
SFY’s experience with five California departments, not all departments
have adopted both policies. The existence of these—and more—policies is especially important given California POST’s lack of training
offered to police on how to interact effectively with the state’s 9 million
youth.16 Only 3 hours are allocated to this topic in the 600 hour POSTrequired curriculum.17
Connecticut has clear statutory training requirements for police on processing arrests and prosecution of youth. But it does not include statutory, procedures or standards guiding police interactions with youth.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann § 7-294y requires police departments to establish

written policies or update current policies with respect to handling
juvenile matters, but offers no substantive guidance about what to
include in those policies. In response to the mandate of 7-294y, the
Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee created a set of recommended standards and policies for law enforcement interactions
with juveniles, “Children, Youth and the Police: Recommended Policies
and Procedures” (2015).18 The recommendations are not grounded in a
developmental framework, nor are they not mandatory or enforceable.
They do provide procedural guidance to departments.

The 2000 Florida Juvenile Handbook19 provides departments with “suggested procedures, guidelines and statutes related to selected juvenile
justice topics.” The handbook contains an overview of the state’s law,
including Miranda rights, detention, procedures for taking a child into
custody, civil citations and interview techniques. The recommendations
in the handbook are not binding, although some of the statutory authority (including the federally mandated20 rule prohibiting detention in a
police station for more than six hours, and the obligation to keep youth
sight and sound separated from adult defendants in transit and during
booking) and case-law is binding on officers. The handbook does not
provide detailed standards for interactions between officers and youth,
and is primarily an overview of constitutional and legal requirements
and options. For example, the use of civil citations to divert minor
offenders is described but no direction is offered about whether law
enforcement agencies should utilize this option.

17. 	 See, page 30 of If Not Now, When?


States With Published Discretionary Guidelines Relating To Police/Youth Interactions







Peace Officers Standards and
Training Commission






Connecticut Juvenile Justice
Advisory Committee






Florida Juvenile Handbook






Maryland Police and Correctional
Training Commissions





New Jersey

New Jersey Juvenile Officer’s Guide






Virginia Law Enforcement
Professional Standards Commission,
Gen. Order 2-29





The Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions formed a
grant funded advisory committee in 1999 to develop non-binding model
policies for Maryland police departments.21 These policies (which were
reissued in 2007) explicitly indicate that they in no way impose any obligations or enforceable requirements on police. The Model Policies as
they relate to juveniles are procedural in nature and do not include standards or best practices to guide police/youth interactions.

a higher standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense, with respect to
third party claims. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the
basis of a complaint by this department, and then only in a non-judicial
administrative setting.” Although the standards are explicitly non-binding, they do provide guidance for officers that, in some instances,
acknowledge developmental differences in adolescents. For example,
the section on interrogations indicates that juveniles might perceive a
non-custodial interview as custodial and that the officer should consider
factors including age and mental capacity when conducting an interview.

New Jersey executive directive 1990-122 sets out general guidance for law
enforcement regarding juveniles. This directive indicates that officers
must have “adequate” training in juvenile justice issues and that law
enforcement policies and procedures for handling juvenile matters should
be uniform. But it does not define adequate training or establish areas in
which uniform standards should be created. New Jersey also created
guidelines and a 2005 training guide for “station house adjustments”
which outline the criteria for informal diversion of minor juvenile offenses
(such as local ordinance violations) through informal police warnings.
The Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission
(VLEPSC) has promulgated standards on juvenile procedures that can be
found in General Order 2-29.23 The introductory note indicates that “[t]his
order is for internal use only, and does not enlarge an officer’s civil or
criminal liability in any way. It should not be construed as the creation of

20.	 Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).



State Standards for Law Enforcement in Schools:
A Little More Guidance (But Not Much)
As law enforcement presence increases in schools, many
communities recognize that School Resource Officers24
(SROs) require specialized training. In the 15 states that
mandate SROs to receive training, the content of the SRO
training is typically determined locally, not by state statute
or regulations.
Our survey found that only one state—Kentucky—issued
comprehensive standards guiding law enforcement agencies and law enforcement officers’ interactions with youth
in schools.
29 states do have some statutory language related to law
enforcement officers deployed in schools. Most of this language refers to training requirements (15 states) or to the
development of MOUs between school and law enforcement agencies.
But these statutes do not qualify as professional standards.
The language does not include specific guidance about
expectations for officers’ conduct with youth (e.g. “If possible, officers should attempt to use de-escalation techniques prior to engaging in use of force.”). Most of the 15
states with training requirements do not specify what this
training must include, although nine identify agencies
responsible for training development (such as the state
POST). Neither do most statutes identify the content of the
MOUs they require school districts and law enforcement
agencies to adopt.
Two notable exceptions are Kentucky and Texas.

Kentucky has issued both comprehensive professional
standards relating to SRO’s use of restraint and seclusion in
schools and training for officers to ensure that they comply
with those standards. The standards provide a basis for
judicial review and can be used to hold police accountable
in the court system—but only after the youth has gone
through the judicial system. Ostensibly, the goal is to avoid
children entering the judicial system in the first place.
The Kentucky standards are an unfunded mandate that relies
on individual school law enforcement leadership to train

officers on the requirements for restraint and seclusion.
As a result, training and implementation are uneven at
best, and SROs are not systematically trained or held
accountable for violating the standards. The consequences
of a department’s failure to properly train and supervise
officers is highlighted by a lawsuit involving SROs in the
Covington Schools in Kentucky.25
A deputy of the Kenton County Sheriff’s office, who was
assigned to the Covington Independent Public School district as an SRO, handcuffed two elementary school students,
S.R. (an eight year old third grader) and L.G. (a nine year old
fourth grader) for conduct arising from their disabilities.
Because the deputy sheriff’s cuffs were adult-sized and too
big for the children’s wrists, he handcuffed the children
above their elbows for 20 minute intervals in violation of
state regulations which forbid contracted law enforcement from handcuffing students (704 K.A.R. 7:160 §1(13),
3(2)(a)) and which only permit handcuffs to be used when
the child poses a danger of imminent physical harm (704
K.A.R. 7:160 §3(1)(b), 3(a),(d).
The United States Department of Justice filed a statement
of interest in the case, noting that the Kenton County Sheriff’s office failed to provide training or oversight to the
deputies who were contracted to serve as school resource
officers. The school district ultimately entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. If the
SRO had been properly trained and followed the existing
state regulations regarding use of restraints in schools, the
lawsuit and settlement could have been avoided.

Texas will now require significant training for SROs that
incorporates both adolescent development concepts and
practices designed to improve school climate and limit the
use of force against children. While the training requirements don’t meet the definition for professional standards
and policies that guide practice and measure performance,
requirements for training could easily translate into formal
performance standards.

24. 	For the purposes of this report, SRO refers to sworn law enforcement officers (as opposed to school employed security officers) deployed in schools.
25. 	S.R and L.G. v. Kenton County Sheriff’s Office


National SRO Training Organization
The stated mission of the National Association of School
Resource Officers (NASRO), is to provide “the highest quality of training to school-based law enforcement officers to
promote safer schools and safer children.”26 NASRO offers
training for school resource officers in adolescent development and de-escalation techniques. NASRO structures its
basic training around three core concepts:

1	 law enforcement functions (including training on
adolescent development and de-escalation),

2	 mentoring students, and
3	 guest speaking and classroom management.
NASRO has not promulgated model standards for school
resource officers but is in an excellent position to offer
leadership in this area.

26. 	To Protect and Educate:



Comprehensive Standards for Law Enforcement Officers’
Interactions with Youth
SFY recommends that states create and adopt
comprehensive standards to guide law enforcement interactions with youth. SFY routinely drafts
policies for individual law enforcement agencies
that reflect state law and local ordinances. The
policies proposed below offer a thumbnail summary of key components of a comprehensive
Youth Interactions policy. Agencies interested in
developing comprehensive policies are invited to
contact us at

The responsible exercise of law enforcement’s gatekeeper
role requires police to be mindful of the collateral consequences of an arrest or formal introduction to the juvenile
justice system on a young person’s educational, employment, and housing options. Arrest of youth should be considered a response of last resort.

Define terms, including terms regarding the names of institutions responsible for youth (e.g. Juvenile Detention Center) and legal terms unique to youth (e.g. status offender).

Clarify that the policies are to be aligned with training on:

This Youth Interactions Policy provides law enforcement
officers (LEOs) with guidance for interactions with youth
that promote compliance with the law, socialize youth to
their legal rights and obligations, and build positive relationships. These policies are intended to equip officers
with developmentally appropriate strategies for responding to youth’s behavior that enhance public safety and hold
youth accountable to laws.
This guidance is based upon the premise that LEOs who
routinely interact with youth require special skills, knowledge, and approaches. In order to be effective, they must
understand that the unique nature of adolescence is characterized by:

•	 risk-taking behaviors,
•	 limited capacity for self-regulation,
•	 limited capacity to anticipate consequences accurately, and
•	 heightened sensitivity to peer pressure and immediate

Decisions made by police about whether to arrest, issue a
court summons, and/or detain at the initial point of contact have long-lasting, and potentially detrimental, impact
on the lives of youth. Minority and other vulnerable youth,
such as those with substance abuse problems, developmental disabilities, and trauma histories, experience disproportionately high arrest and detention rates.

1	 youth development,
2	 developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed communication strategies,

3	 de-escalation practices and asserting authority effectively with youth,

4	 bias awareness and equitable treatment of youth who
experience disproportionately high rates of police
contact, and

5	 unique legal aspects of policing youth.
Investigative Stops Of Juveniles
For a general review of the standards and procedures to be
followed when conducting field interrogations, or Terry
stops, see General Order on Investigative Stops. Officers
should be aware of youths’ potential response that may
impact the tenor and evolution of a Terry stop in unintended ways. Where appropriate, officers shall employ
developmentally-appropriate tactics to de-escalate the
Diversion Of Juvenile Matters Without Arrest
Where probable cause exists that a youth has engaged in
unlawful behavior, officers may exercise reasonable discretion to hold youth accountable for their actions without formally arresting him or her. Alternatives to arrest may include:



•	 Warn and release without further action.
•	 Informal counseling by the officer guided by principles
of restorative justice.

•	 Referral to an appropriate community social service
or mental health agency.

•	 Station house warning and adjustment.
•	 Issuance of Citation.
Bias-Free Policing And Disproportionate Minority
Contact With Youth
Officers are directed to review General Orders for guidance on this topic, including an understanding of how
implicit biases, of which one may be unaware, can nonetheless significantly influence one’s behavior, actions and
decisions, particularly under stress.
Because of the enormous discretionary power bestowed
upon LEOs, they have a special responsibility to reduce the
impact of implicit bias in their actions.

General Guidelines
It is the policy of this Agency to engage in developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed de-escalation
strategies when interacting with youth. Officers must use
the least amount of force appropriate to the age, bodysize, disability status, relative strength, and risk posed by
the youth to stabilize the situation and protect the safety
of the involved youth, LEOs, and the public.

1	 Officer Presence

The mere physical presence of an officer can be
intimidating and threatening to youth. Approach
youth in a non-confrontational manner to diffuse
tension and anxiety while maintaining safety.

2	 Communication Strategies

•	 Use a calm and measured tone, simple, concrete

language and short, direct phrases to gain compliance.

•	 Use repetition in a clear voice to reinforce instructions.
•	 Do not use threats and intimidation to gain compliance.
•	 Allow youth to make choices when appropriate,
even if it is only the appearance of a choice to gain

•	 Allow ample time for youth to comply.
3	 Empty Hand Control

•	 Physical force of any kind must be objectively

reasonable, necessary, proportional to the circumstances and consistent with the age, body-size,
disability status, relative strength, and risk posed
by the youth.

De-Escalation Tactics With Youth
When necessary, officers interacting with youth shall
employ developmentally-appropriate crisis intervention
tactics designed to de-escalate the encounter, reduce triggering traumatic responses, and eliminate the need to use
force. When determining whether, and to what degree, to
use force, officers must be mindful of both the circumstances giving rise to the encounter and to the environment
in which the interaction is taking place. This is especially
true when it occurs in child-centric locations such as
schools, playgrounds, and recreation centers. A developmentally-sensitive de-escalation approach includes the following components, adapted from recommendations of the
National Institute for Justice:27

27. 	 National Institute of Justice (NIJ)



•	 Physical attributes of the officer relative to the

youth must also inform the degree of force
necessary and objectively reasonable to stabilize
a situation.

•	 Use of force is never permitted on youth in restraints.
•	 Conduced Electrical Weapons, pain compliance or
pressure point control techniques on youth are
prohibited unless the encounter arises to a deadly
force situation.

Once a youth is in custody, every effort will be made to
reduce the trauma associated with confinement by keeping him or her safe and separate from adults and by relinquishing custody to a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult as soon as reasonably practicable. In adherence
to the federal Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act
(JJDPA), youth shall be held in temporary custody of the of
Police only as long as reasonably necessary; custody may
not exceed six hours.
Youth Who Shall Not Be Held
Youth who exhibit any of the following conditions shall not be
taken into the custody of the Agency: seriously injured, unconscious, significantly intoxicated, a known suicide risk or obviously severely emotionally disturbed or otherwise in crisis.
Non-Secure Custody
Under no circumstances shall a victim, status offender or

youth alleged to be dependent, neglected, or abused, be
held in secure custody. Youth taken into protective custody
shall not be held by the Agency.
Secure Custody
Secure custody and referral to the juvenile justice system
should be restricted to those cases involving serious criminal conduct or repeated criminal violations.
Booking And Processing Of Youth
Officers shall take immediate steps to notify a youth’s parent, guardian or a responsible relative that a youth is in
custody, the location where the youth is being held and the
intended disposition. Pursuant to the JJDPA, 42 U.S.C. Sec.
5633, booking and processing youth in custody requires
that youth have auditory access to the supervising
officer(s), be personally observed by supervisory personnel
no less than every 30 minutes; be detained for a period not
to exceed 6 hours at which point they may be released to
a parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult or transported to detention.
Sight And Sound Separation
Pursuant to the JJDPA, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5633, “sight and sound
separation” shall be maintained between all youth and adults
while in the Agency’s custody including during transport.
Release Of Information Concerning Youth
LEOs shall not divulge any information regarding youth
unless they are certain of the legal authority to do so.



Developmental differences between adults and youth
require that officers take special care to ensure that youth
interviews and interrogations are conducted so as to ensure
voluntary, reliable and non-traumatic results. A developmental approach requires officers to remember that youth
are more likely to overestimate immediate rewards (e.g.
completing the interview, going home, sleeping, etc.) and
less able than adults to consider the long-term consequences of their actions and decisions. This makes them
less capable of either understanding or appreciating the
constitutional protections afforded to them and the consequences associated with waiving those protections.
Determining Custody
To determine whether a youth is in custody for purposes of
Miranda, courts will examine the circumstances surrounding
the interrogation and ask whether, given those circumstances,
a “reasonable juvenile” would have felt free to leave.
The U.S. Supreme Court has cautioned that “a reasonable
child subjected to police questioning will sometimes feel
pressured to submit when a reasonable adult would feel
free to go.”28 Age is a factor to be considered under the
totality of circumstances in determining custody, regarding the timing and circumstances in officers’ questioning
of youth.
Administering Juvenile Miranda Warning
Youth must be advised of his or her Miranda rights in a clear
and understandable way prior to custodial interrogation.29

1	 Timing of Administration of Miranda Warnings: U.S.
Supreme Court decisions require law enforcement
officers to administer Miranda warnings when a
youth is likely to perceive him/herself in custody, e.g.
not free to leave.
2	 Age Appropriate Method of Providing Miranda Warnings to Youth: Each warning should be read slowly,
one at a time. Officers should not make assumptions
about a youth’s literacy. To ensure solid understanding, youth should be asked to explain each warning in
his/her own words after it is read. Because age is not
a reliable indicator of reading comprehension level,
SFY recommends adoption of the International Association of Chiefs of Police age-appropriate language
for Miranda warnings:

28. 	J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 2403 (2011).
29. 	IACP Model Policy Juvenile Enforcement and Custody



•	 You have the right to remain silent. That means you
do not have to say anything.

•	 Anything you say can be used against you in court.
•	 You have the right to get help from a lawyer right now.
•	 You also have a right to have your mother, father,
or another adult here.

•	 If you or your family cannot pay a lawyer, the court
will get you one for free.

•	 You have the right to stop this interview at any time.
•	 Do you want to talk to me?
•	 Do you want to have a lawyer with you while you
talk to me?

•	 Do you want your mother, father, or another adult
concerned about you here while you talk to me?

Officers must stop questioning youth when the youth has
requested an attorney. If a youth asks for a parent or other
adult to be present, officers should stop questioning until
that adult is present.
Obtaining Miranda Waivers
Miranda waivers are typically accepted as valid when the
totality-of-the-circumstances demonstrate the waiver was
knowing, intelligent and voluntary. Factors considered include:

1	 the youth’s age, mentality, and prior juvenile justice
system experience;

2	 the length and intensity of the interrogation; and
3	 the existence of physical deprivation, inducement,
coersion or deception.

Questioning Youth
To obtain statements that are voluntary and reliable from
youth, officers must be aware that youth are more suggestible and vulnerable to the inherent pressures of interrogation and more likely to placate their questioners by guessing until they discover the desired answer. Officers should:

•	 Clarify purpose.
•	 Make sure that questioning takes place in a private
room for periods of less than 2 hours.

•	 Provide opportunities for a youth to clear his/her mind
and to eat, drink and use the restroom, as well as stop
answering questions.

•	 Make sure that the entire interview is video recorded,
beginning when the officer first speaks to the youth
and ending after the final question is answered.

•	 Explain next steps.
•	 Record the provision of Miranda warnings and the
youth’s Miranda waiver (for serious felonies).

General Guidelines
Police encounter many youth who are challenged—by exposure to violence, mental health issues, and environmental
factors beyond their control. The policies in this section guide
officers’ interactions with youth in a variety of challenging
circumstances. Components of a comprehensive policy
should include policies and practices that address:
Arrests Of Parents In The Presence Of Their Children
It is recognized that exposure to arrests have a long-term
harmful impact on youth and can permanently affect
future interactions between police and youth. As part of its
commitment to protecting children and youth, the Agency
commits to reducing youth’s exposure to trauma and violence, including observing the arrest of their parents/caretakers/relatives by adhering to following practices and
policies that demonstrate a developmentally-appropriate,
trauma-informed responses to children.

It is the policy of this agency to apply and administer all
programs, initiatives, and activities without discriminating
on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity,
or gender expression. Factors such as a youth’s sex, sexual
orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age,
dress, unusual or disheveled or impoverished appearance
do not alone justify even a brief detention, a request for
identification, or an order to move on, nor do general complaints from residents, merchants or others.

To guide its practices, including deployment and allocation
of resources, and inform its responses, the agency will collect and appropriately manage data on calls for service
involving youth, officer dispatch referrals to youth-serving
organizations and facilities (e.g. schools, detention, other),
field investigation observations, arrests, and charges, as
well as use of force reports and complaints made by or on
behalf of youth against officers. Data to be collected will
include race, gender, age, location of arrest, home address
of youth. Data collected should be routinely shared with
the public and juvenile justice system stakeholders.

Youth In Crisis Due To Mental Illness And/Or
Drug/Alcohol Consumption
Officers must respond to youth in crisis in a developmentally-appropriate trauma-informed manner to ensure the
safety of both youth and officers and to effectively and
humanely resolve incidents without risking unnecessary
escalation. When interacting with youth with disabilities,
officers are required to make reasonable modifications of
their practices.
Sexually Trafficked Children & Youth
Any person under the age of 18 engaged in commercial
sexual activity is to be treated as a victim in need of protection. In view of the challenging nature of protecting
trafficked youth from their exploiters, special traumainformed, trafficking-specific approaches are required.
Officers working with trafficked youth must be alert for
signs that youth are being coerced by fear, duress, threats,
intimidation and fraud.
Officers should also assess the functioning of the youth, e.g.
ascertain whether the youth may have any cognitive disabilities.




Police who regularly interact with youth need to understand how adolescents think, process information and
respond to stress. Officers need to master a set of strategies for peacefully engaging with youth, and for ensuring
that youth of color are treated equitably. Officers also need
to recognize and respond appropriately to signs of trauma
and mental illness. Law enforcement agencies and their
leaders need strong guidance, support, and expectations
from the state on how to ensure that agencies and officers
develop and execute these responsibilities.
Unfortunately, states are not demonstrating leadership
regarding the development of model policies and practices for police/youth interactions. The abdication by the
state in this domain has a number of negative impacts:

•	 It causes unnecessary confusion on the part of both

youth and law enforcement about the consequences
and seriousness of violations,



•	 It represents a missed opportunity to improve consis-

tency in law enforcement agency management and law
enforcement officer responses,

•	 It prevents states from providing urgently needed

guidance and oversight to local law enforcement
departments that would almost certainly reduce their
risk of expensive law suits and federal oversight;

•	 It prevents local law enforcement agencies from

benefiting from the collective expertise and perspectives of community stakeholders, who can help them to
improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

In other professions where adults are in regular contact
with children—such as health care, teaching and day
care—the state is heavily involved in setting and enforcing
clear standards. It is past time for law enforcement agencies and officers to benefit from the same levels of
accountability, training and guidance. SFY’s extensive

experience working with law enforcement agencies and
officers makes us confident that most would welcome
state standards, if they are carefully and thoughtfully
developed, and accompanied by high quality training and
financial support for their implementation.
With so much public focus on police reform, and amid deep
uncertainty regarding federal oversight, there is an opportunity for state agencies and legislatures to step into leadership roles. By convening a diverse and knowledgeable
pool of stakeholders, they can model a process for creating
developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed standards
governing police/youth interactions that can be widely replicated across the country. These standards will help reduce
unnecessary arrests, avoid the escalation of minor incidents, and keep officers, youth, and communities safer.
For these reasons, SFY recommends:

•	 All states should develop clear professional standards

to guide police interactions with youth. These standards should reflect current knowledge about adolescent development, best practices for peacefully
settling conflicts without incident or arrest, and an
understanding of the challenges that police face when
interacting with youth who have experienced trauma,
been exposed to violence, or suffer from mental illness.

•	 State standards should be enforceable and binding.

These standards should become the criteria by which
law enforcement agencies and officers who interact
with youth are evaluated and promoted.

•	 State standards should be incorporated into the

curriculum taught to police cadets and provided to
officers in professional development programs. Such a
curriculum should be updated and retaught on a
frequent basis.

•	 When developing these standards, states should seek
the input of a diverse set of stakeholders, including
psychologists, educators, youth advocates, and child
development experts.

•	 State standards should require law enforcement

agencies to track racial and ethnic disparities in youth
encounters with police and should require agencies to
take steps to reduce disparities if they exist.

•	 States should take responsibility for data collection and
monitoring of compliance with these standards,
particularly around the use of force. This accountability
will promote uniform treatment of youth and encourage better training for officers; thus ultimately increasing the safety of both groups.



Appendix 1: Standards Survey Form
Survey Methodology
SFY searched the Lexis database for state statutes and administrative codes that prescribe minimum standards for law
enforcement officers in each state. In addition, we searched for alternative sources of standards, including POSTs (Police
Officers Standards and Training Council), State Commissions, and police training bodies. Upon locating a source, we
requested copies of the standards and/or an interview with the person in charge to ascertain which stakeholders were
involved in its development, whether it reflected the current status of case law, and how it embodied the developmental
approach required by the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal government. To guide the process, SFY created a framework
for categorizing the source and rating the level of enforceability from most binding on agencies (state statute) to least
binding (local law enforcement directives).

The Survey
Person Interviewed:
Agency Name:

1 Does your State’s P.O.S.T. provide written standards or guidelines on juvenile justice (excluding issues relating to child abuse)?



2 Are these provided to:



3 If so, would it be possible to obtain a copy of these standards?



4 If no, would you be able to tell us what standards are available to local law enforcement agencies (L.L.E.A.)?

Please check all that apply:

General Policies and Practices

h0 Arrest and Custody of Juveniles
h0 Impartial Policing of Youth of
0 Color/Disproportionate Minority Contact
h0 Conducting Searches of Juveniles
h0 Use of Detention for Juveniles
h0 Transportation of Juveniles
h0 Status Offenses
h0 Diversion Through Referral to Youth Serving
0 Community-Based Organizations
h0 Use of Force on Juveniles
h0 Family/Domestic Violence



Legal Aspects of Police Role in Providing Miranda
& Questioning Youth

h0 Procedures for Determining Custody of Juvenile
0 (per JDB v. North Carolina)
h0 Provision of Age-Appropriate Miranda Warnings
0 (rewrite existing warnings)
h0 Procedure of Age-Appropriate Miranda Waiver
h0 Procedure for Interviewing a Juvenile
h0 Procedure for Interrogating a Juvenile

Officers Deployed to Schools

Special Responsibilities for Vulnerable Youth

h	 School Resource Officer Procedures (should include

h	 Procedures for Arresting Parents in the Presence of

	 reference to existing MOUs between departments and
	 schools) and distinguish discipline from offending
h	 School-Based Policing (for officers responding to calls
	 for service from schools)

	 Their Children
h	 Procedures for Drug-Exposed Children
h	 Procedures for Identifying & Responding to
	 Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
h	 Procedure for Runaway Youth
h	 Procedure for Youth Presenting Mental Health Issues
	 and Drug/Alcohol Intoxication

Use of Alternatives to Arrest

h	 Partnerships with Youth Serving Community-Based

h	 Restorative Justice Practices
h	 Diversion Programs in Lieu of Arrest

5 How are these standards made available to L.L.E.A.?

6 Are these standards updated annually?



7 Is there a State or P.O.S.T. requirement that L.L.E.A. adopt them?



8 Who is in charge of overseeing their implementation?

P.O.S.T. Questions

1 Does your State’s P.O.S.T. have policies or practices for dealing with youth when their parents are arrested?
2 If so, would it be possible to obtain a copy of these standards?





3 How are these standards made available to L.L.E.A.?

4 Is there a State or P.O.S.T. requirement that L.L.E.A. adopt them?



5 Who is in charge of overseeing their implementation?



Appendix 2: CALEA and IACP Model Standards
CALEA Model Standards
The Commission on the Accreditation for Law Enforcement
(CALEA) and local accreditation agencies operate on a voluntary basis. Therefore, local law enforcement agencies can
determine whether to seek accreditation from CALEA and
whether to create and follow juvenile justice standards.

Recommendations for Practice and Policy,”31 provides excellent language for departments that integrates developmental
science in many of its recommendations. IACP does not
accredit or certify agencies and its standards, trainings and
publications are resources that are available to members but
are not binding.

CALEA model standards state that “law enforcement officers should always take the least coercive action when
dealing with juveniles, among reasonable alternatives,
consistent with preserving public safety, order and individual liberty.”30 The guidelines note that law enforcement
generally have four sets of alternatives from which to
choose when dealing with juveniles:

1	 they may release and take no further action,
2	 they may divert the offender to a social service agency,
3	 they may dispose of the case themselves, or
4	 they may (in the case of serious offenders) refer the
youth to juvenile court (intake).

CALEA states that agencies should establish guidelines and
criteria for the use of these alternatives. Additionally, procedures should be established for the interrogation and temporary detention of juveniles who are taken into custody.
CALEA directs law enforcement agencies to describe in writing the agency’s juvenile operations, and requires annual
review and evaluation of all enforcement and prevention programs relating to juveniles. CALEA standards indicate that law
enforcement agencies should participate in and/or organize
community recreational youth programs.

IACP Model Standards
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) provides
model policies on Juvenile Enforcement and Custody (2014).
These model policies include discussions about alternatives
to formal processing and arrest, use of restraints, status
offenders, and interview procedures (which are discussed in
more detail in Training Key #652 “Interview and Interrogation
of Juveniles”). In addition, the 2014 IACP report “Law Enforcement’s Leadership Role in Juvenile Justice Reform: Actionable

30. 	CALEA Std. 22, 2012



“The agency should make a firm commitment to develop and
perpetuate programs that are designed to prevent and control
juvenile delinquency” 44.1.1
“Agency referral of alleged juvenile offenders for formal legal
proceedings should be restricted to cases involving serious
criminal conduct or repeated criminal violations.” 44.2.1 commentary

“Officers should bear in mind that only a small percentage of
juvenile commit the majority of juvenile crimes. While this small
percentage may require secure custody, the vast majority of
juvenile offenders are likely candidates for nonsecure custody
and positive diversion and intervention strategies.”

Appendix 3: State Guidance About Policies Governing
Police/Youth Interactions

The states shown in yellow
do not address police/youth
interactions at the state level.

Police/Peace Officer
Standards & Training (POST)

Advisory Committee

New Jersey


Law Enforcement Commission


Regulations and
Law Enforcement Commission


Law Enforcement Commission

Law enforcement agencies could potentially draw guidance
for policies about police/youth interactions from a variety
of state sources:

•	 Statues
•	 Regulations
•	 State Public Safety Agency Models
•	 Police/Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST)
•	 Law Enforcement Commissions
•	 Advisory Committees

Unfortunately, very few states regulate or recommend best
practices for how law enforcement agencies and officers
interact with youth. The map indicates the five states that
provide some form of guidance. All of the other 45 states
do not address police/youth interactions at the state level.



P.O. Box 390174 • Cambridge, MA 02139 • 617.714.3789 •