Thursday, March 06, 2008

It Isn't Always The Cops, But...

Spokesman Review front page headline: Spokane schools challenged over girls' police interrogation.

Right. Two twelve year old middle school girls are pulled from class and interrogated by police. Both were considered suspects of a malicious mischief incident. It was not until after the fact that the parents of the girls were notified. The parents were furious but the police were perfectly within their rights. Students over twelve, according to state law, are old enough to know right from wrong and take responsibility for their actions.

The schools cannot prevent the prevent the questioning but they can call the parents if it's going to take place in the school. They did not do so in this case. A lot of huffing and puffing trying to justify actions followed.

Of most concern to me is the fact that at least one of the girls did not know what an attorney was after having been read her rights. Both ended up waiving them.

There is no need for me to go into the point of law. I'd rather, one more time, look at judgement on the part of the officers. If a child, and yes, 12 year olds are still children, doesn't know what an attorney is, why would you expect they understood anything that was happening to them? I'd say, knowing the history of the Spokane police, the girls may consider themselves lucky they weren't tasered in order to get the information wanted.

I'd agree with the parents they have a right to know. I'd question the judgement of the police. I'd look at the law.

If I were the school and knew actions such as these were possible I'd sure as heck have it understood by the parents and the students. They also need to understand the vocabulary that goes with it. As for the parents, you might want to add that to the list of things you teach your kids, like don't get in a stranger's car, don't take drugs or smoke. Know your rights in case you get in a scrape.

Here they are:

You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?
Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?
You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?
If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?
Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?

Police. Uniformed and armed to the hilt. They want to talk to me? I'm twelve years old. I'm in school in front of all my friends and teachers. Wow! What did he just say???


Anonymous said...

This is outrageous! I don't care what these girls did, the fact they are juveniles and/or may have behaved badly, does not preclude their civil rights. The school should have immediately called the parents. A school administrator should have remained with the girls and explained what the Miranda meant to them.

But then this is Spokane isn't it. A law enforcement agency who tasers helpless calves to death. A police force who suffocates a mentally impaired adult to death. An adult who was, in fact, totally innocent of any wrong doing. And this same force walks away scott free from accepting or admitting responsibility for their actions. I thought this new police chief was going to be a "new broom". Apparently not.
Camellia Underhill

Anonymous said...

I've been mulling this over. First, the law is absolutely absurd. Do most WA parents know about this, doubtful. I would bet that, no matter what the law about age appropriate (isn't that a misnomer) interviewing, the girls waiving their rights wouldn't stand up. I don't care how backward the state, a 12 year old is a minor and, under any law, as such, cannot legally sign away any of their rights. A savvy lawyer could, and should, clean the SPD's clock. And Spokane makes fun of Idaho. Talk about whistling in the wind! CU

Word Tosser said...

This very same thing happen to one of my son's in 1983, he was 14. Seems some one saw a blonde boy do some damage to rr tracks. That is it...blonde boy... but they were at the school questioning my blonde son, both the RR Dick and the police. My shaking, never been in trouble son, was scared to death. I learned about it when he got home from school.. can you spell PI..ED OFF PARENT? I went down before the Principal left that day, and read the riot act... If he ever ...ever had my children in his office with an official... he better have me there too. I heard later, he was glad when the last of my kids gradutated as he didn't want to have me in his office again.
Oh, they caught the guy... yes he had blonde hair..but he was 32 years old.