Police officers all too often fail to consider how children are traumatized during an arrest of their parent. An extreme excessive force arrest in Chicago highlights the consequences.
Chicago’s City Council was expected to approve on Wednesday a $2.5 million settlement involving police officers who traumatized a toddler by pointing a gun at her chest during an arrest of the girl’s mother, the Associated Press reported.
The three-year-old, Davianna Simmons, wakes up from nightmares screaming “the police are coming,” city attorney Jennifer Notz stated, adding that the child will probably need psychiatric help into adulthood, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
“The plaintiffs further testified that Davianna screams and runs every time she sees police officers,” Notz said. Davianna’s own testimony was videotaped and approved by a judge for use at a potential trial.
News of this settlement arrived on Wednesday, National PTSD Awareness Day, when the nation pauses to reflect on those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The family’s legal team raised the point that the Chicago Police Department, which is undergoing federal directed reforms, has no plan to train officers on how to treat children during arrests.
Chicago police are far from alone. Members of the Cleveland Police Department received training for this in 2016 from Lisa Thurau, executive director of the non-profit Strategies for Youth. She underscored that children can be psychologically scarred for life after watching a parent get arrested. “These memories endure and then they form attitudes,” she added.
Thurau based portions of the training on studies like a 2014 report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which found that police frequently fail to consider the presence of children when arresting a parent.
In the Chicago case, the council’s finance committee has already approved the settlement.