Kirkland police shouldn’t have used force in teen arrest, says YMCA mentor
Kirkland police officers were out of line in the manner that they arrested a 14-year-old boy at the Kirkland Teen Union Building, the city’s youth-focused YMCA branch, according to Teen Union Program Director Antoine Jackson.
The teen was arrested on suspicion of having stolen tip jars from businesses and packages from front steps throughout the area, as well as having trespassed on school property.
In security video footage, a Kirkland police officer can be seen throwing the teen to the ground with his knee in the teen’s back, and pushing the boy’s face toward the floor.
Jackson said it was right that the boy should be arrested if he did commit the crime, but questioned the method of arrest.
“How are you going about doing it? Is it really called for to use an excess amount of force?” he asked, adding, “I’ve seen police officers detain individuals and do it in a manner that [caused] bodily harm or mental harm.”
In the video, the teen can be seen pulling away from the officer. While Kirkland police said the action was needed because the teen resisted arrest, Jackson said that the actions he personally would describe as “resisting arrest” — running away, screaming, and fighting the officer — were not what this teenager had done. Furthermore, he said that the 14-year-old was very small in stature and did not require much force to subdue.
“You know how much force is needed to be applied, or not to be applied,” he said. “And as an individual who knows how to calm people down, I know I can calm people down before even having to get physical.”
If the police were to come to him and ask him to help with a identify a teenage suspect at the Y, he said he would always “work as a team” with the officers.
“We don’t want to minimize anything, we don’t condone any individual committing a crime,” he said. “Our job is to make sure … we help you make the right decisions and really, really lead you on a path to be successful.”
Charges were not filed against the teenager.
The YMCA’s mission
Many of the young people with whom the Y works are at-risk youth.
“In the line of work I do, it calls for us to show a form of compassion, and empathy, especially working with youth,” Jackson said.
On a daily basis, the KTUB provides them with the opportunity to take up new hobbies, make friends, study for class, learn skills like coding and resume-writing, get a healthy meal, and more.
The teens’ YMCA mentors work to make sure they stay on or get back on a positive path for the future.
“Having an understanding of what a lot of these youth are going through gives you a better perception of what would lead them to making some of the decisions they do make, and if they do make a mistake, how we can actually lead them to, one, correcting the mistake, answering for it if they did make a mistake, holding them accountable for those mistakes, but showing them how they can overcome them and lead them onto a path toward success,” Jackson said.
Jackson encourages everyone who would like to learn more about the YMCA’s mission to visit the Teen Union Building, located at 348 Kirkland Ave.
“Any youth out there that really needs assistance, needs help, or are just really trying to come to a place where they can be themselves, that’s what the YMCA KTUB is there for,” he said. “Also, any concerned individual in the community that would like to learn more about the work we’re doing, please come down — our door is always open.”
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