City Council Passes Child Sensitive Arrest Bill

16 August 2019

On Wednesday, August 14 the New York City Council passed a package of bills that were referred to as Justice for Jazmine (named after Jazmine Headley whose arrest in December stunned the City and beyond, for its aggressive separation of her and her infant son). This package includes Intro 1349-A which requires the New York Police Department to develop guidance - including training and protocols- for officers when arresting a caregiver whose child is present with the goal of minimizing trauma to children. The bill will be sent to Mayor de Blasio for signature (it will become law in 30 days unless the Mayor vetoes the bill) and will be enacted within six months after it becomes law. 

This is a huge and important step that will benefit the well being of thousands of children who experience and witness the arrest of a parent, including instances when the offense is not child-related. Osborne's NY Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents has been advocating for child-sensitive arrest policies and practices since our inception in 2006. 

A huge thank you to the bill sponsor Council member Daniel Dromm and Public Safety Committee Chair Council member Donovan Richards for their commitment and leadership. We also thank all our partnerswho helped craft and advocate for the bill, with a special shout out to those who were able to join us at City Hall including the Women and Justice Project and the Coalition for Women Prisoners.

Elizabeth Gaynes, President and CEO of the Osborne Association, said, "The Osborne Association applauds the passage of Intro 1349-A. We have been providing services to children of arrested and incarcerated parents for over three decades, including those who have witnessed their parent’s arrest, and we see the aftereffects and toll that this trauma takes. We also know that police officers have a very challenging job and deserve training and guidance on minimizing trauma to children, and secondary trauma to themselves. This new law takes important steps in this direction and we look forward to working with the City Council, the NYPD, and community partners to safeguard children before, during, and after a parent’s arrest.”

Daniel Dromm, City Council Member, said "Today the New York City Council passed Int 1349, my bill which will reduce trauma of arrests on parents & their children by requiring guidance the NYPD must follow. Working with the Osborne Association, I will continue to examine ways to mitigate the harmful collateral impacts of the criminal justice system.

Raymond Rodiguez, who witnessed his father's arrest as a child, said, "“I first began sharing my story when I was 14 years old through the Osborne Association’s youth programs -- that was 9 years ago. I met with the elected and government officials, sharing my story and advocating on behalf of children with incarcerated parents. Passing this bill is important to me because it can protect innocent children who are present during future arrests. I was traumatized when I witnessed my father’s aggressive arrest and I wish the responding officers would have thought of me as I watched the whole thing. Officers should always be trained in appropriate arrest tactics whenever a minor is present, and I’m pleased that the NYPD will now provide that for them. This bill will support both sides of arrests: it’s not easy on officers either when children are there. My goal is to become an officer with the NYPD someday, giving back to my community and this means a lot to me. Thank you.”