The police chief in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has apologized for the arrests of 10 elementary school students and reiterated that an investigation into the matter is being conducted, The Tennessean reports.
"I am so saddened, and I'm so sorry this incident happened," Police Chief Karl Durr said, "because I truly think it could have been avoided."
The controversy, which stemmed from police arresting young students from Hobgood Elementary for not stopping a fight, is currently before the Juvenile Court, and there are no plans to dismiss charges at this point, the news site notes.
However, Durr did reiterate that the department is conducting an internal review to ascertain if there were any policy violations by the department or if any policy is lacking, to see what training may need to be done as a result of the incident, and to determine if there was any department misconduct in the case.
Durr cited the opportunity to look into the department's handcuffing policy, which currently only says that an officer should "take into consideration" whether to handcuff a child under 12. It will also be an opportunity to work with the community and school officials to address guidelines for in-school arrests. The preference for him, he told The Tennessean, would be for officers to deal with similar situations not by pulling the child out of school, since this causes trauma for both the child and his or her peers, but instead by engaging parents in addressing a child's behavior.
"I want to believe what happened here was an anomaly, because of the good work that I see," Durr said. "Errors were made, and now we are going to correct them moving forward and fix them so they are not repeated."
As The Tennessean notes, Durr's office was told that the arrests involved a bullying-and-assault incident that happened days before off campus. At least one of the individuals involved in the bullying case is also connected to a larger criminal case, Durr said, which prompted a deeper look into the incident.
"Remember, there was a victim here, too, so if my officer didn’t do their job that day, and we ignored the victim, what would this conversation be today?" Durr said. "That we failed to do our job."
"We all learn from experiences—most of us learn through failures," he added. "We have got to move forward as an agency and move forward with the community."
Read more at The Tennessean.