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Shameful: Rochester police should be investigated

Think for a moment about the 9-year-old girls you have known. Any of them seem as though there is the remotest of possibilities they could have been a threat to a fully equipped group of police officers?

Of course not. But for multiple officers in Rochester, N.Y. (the city will not say how many), a single hysterical 9-year-old girl was either so terrifying or provoked such an urge to violent bullying that she was restrained on the ground in the snow, handcuffed, shoved into a patrol car and pepper sprayed.

According to the police, who were responding to a report of “family trouble,” the girl was screaming for her father. When they scolded her to “stop acting like a child,” she rightly responded “I am a child.” When, for unfathomable reasons, they had her restrained on the snowy ground (she was wearing leggings and a sweatshirt), she asked if someone could “please get the snow off me? It’s cold.” She was told “You had your chance,” by one officer, while another shouted “Get in the car, now!”

At that point, the handcuffed 9-year-old girl allegedly did not obey their commands to put her feet inside the vehicle … so they pepper sprayed her. In describing the incident, the Rochester Police Department said the officer was “required” to do so. The officers have been suspended, but Rochester’s mayor claims “Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action.”

Nonsense. The language being used by both the department and the mayor indicate they are not as disturbed by the officers’ behavior as they should be. Remember, this is the same department from which officers responded to a call involving a man having a mental health crisis … and that man died after they put a hood over his head and pressed his face to the pavement.

Something is very wrong in Rochester, and no amount of hiding behind the letter of state law or union contracts should be tolerated as outside investigators get to the bottom of it.

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