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Handle with Care for Law Enforcement

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"Handle With Care" provides the school with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event. It could be a meth lab explosion, a domestic violence situation, a shooting in the neighborhood, witnessing a malicious wounding, a drug raid at the home, a motor vehicle accident, house fire or natural death in the home, etc. Police are trained to identify children at the scene, find out where they go to school and send the school a confidential email or fax that simply says . . . “Handle Johnny with care”. That’s it. No other details.

1. Determine Whether Children Are Present—Best Practice

  • Name
  • Age
  • Relationship to parties
  • School
  • Demeanor
  • Present during incident?
  • Physically harmed

2. Health & Safety Checks on Children — Best Practice

  • Visual Observation
  • Asking the Child
  • Determine if Treatment is Necessary
  • Mandated Reporting to CPS remains a requirement

3. Talking With Children About the Incident—As appropriate for LE investigation

4. Avoid Interviewing Witnesses in the Presence of Children.

5. Follow-up Interviews — Child Advocacy Center Needed?

6. Documentation – Child’s name, age and school should be documented by the responding officer.

7. Avoid Subduing or Arresting Someone in the Presence of Children

8. Separating Children from the Care Giving Parent/Guardian — Done with care if required

9. Resources; Provide Parent/Guardian information:

  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Victim Resources

10. Daily Review of Reports

  • Reports will be reviewed each morning by the law enforcement agency.
  • A “Handle With Care” notice will be generated for each child listed in each report.
  • A designee at the law enforcement agency will ensure the “Handle With Care” notice is promptly forwarded to the designated school official via email.

11. Quarterly Handle With Care Core Team Meeting (this will happen monthly for the first several months following implementation)

At least quarterly, key Handle With Care stakeholders will review and evaluate Handle With Care and make recommendations for improvement as necessary.

  • Law Enforcement
  • School
  • Advocates
  • Counselors
  • Case workers
  • Community partners
  • Parents
  • Others

The Team will assess the following to determine the effectiveness of Handle With Care: academic achievements; truancies; and disciplinary reports. The meeting will not focus on specific cases.


Trauma Training Resource for Law Enforcement

Handle With Care for Law Enforcement register before viewing video

Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Trauma, International Association of Chiefs of Police.

VIDEO: Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents Training

Handle With Care: Roll Call Video

Handle With Care