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September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Diagnostic Center and Strategies for Youth produced a brief on the model of practices for law enforcement agencies when arresting parents in the presence of children. Parental incarceration and the disruption of family relationships can produce negative outcomes for children, including trauma-induced physical and mental health issues, which can lead to negative academic, behavioral, and justice system outcomes. To help mitigate these outcomes, law enforcement can modify their procedures to make arrests less traumatic for children, adopt protocols to ensure children are accounted for and are left in the care of responsible caregivers, and collaborate with social workers and child advocates to help make sure children receive the services they need.

This report recommends specific models of practices that law enforcement can incorporate to help protect children of incarcerated parents, such as procedures for arriving at the scene of a call for service where children might be involved, making referrals to social service agencies, creating interagency teams to support children, and training for law enforcement officials on the signs and symptoms of trauma. Also included are sections discussing the following:

  • Importance of Limiting Exposure to Trauma and Violence in Children
  • Opportunities to Connect With Children and Interrupt Cycles of Violence
  • Elements of Effective Models for Responding to Children of Arrested Parents
  • Examples of Effective Models for Responding to Children of Arrested Parents

Access First, Do No Harm: Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies When Arresting Parents in the Presence of Children, by Lisa H. Thurau, at (4 MB).