State legislators propose ban on chemical agents against minors by police officers

Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — State legislators from the Rochester area are proposing legislation that would prohibit the use of chemical agents like pepper spray against minors by police officers.

This proposed legislation comes after a 9-year-old girl was handcuffed and pepper sprayed by Rochester police officers Friday. State Sen. Samra Brouk (D-55) and Assemblymember Demond Meeks (D-137) say the legislation would prohibit the use of chemical agents, including pepper spray and tear gas, by police officers against children under the age of 18.

MORE | 9-year-old pepper sprayed by Rochester police: Why wasn’t new ‘Person in Crisis’ team called?

“The harrowing experience endured by a nine-year-old girl in our community — including being handcuffed and pepper sprayed — should never happen to another child,” Brouk said in a press release. “This legislation will ensure that when a child is in crisis, they will never again be met with such violence in the form of pepper spray or other chemical irritants. We know that trauma and adverse events in childhood have a lasting impact on the lives and health of individuals, and this legislation seeks to limit traumatic events happening to our children at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

“The events that took place last Friday evening shook me, and our community to the core,” Meeks said in a press release. “The same officers who are charged to serve and protect us instead brutally attacked a child of our community. As a legislator we are called to do more than offer words, we are called to change the laws to ensure this does not happen again. That is why I am introducing this bill alongside my colleague, Senator Samra Brouk, to stop all chemical agents from being used as weapons against our children.”

The legislators say “lack of adequate policies and training, supervision, and accountability systems likely contribute to over-reliance on physical force and chemical agents. This legislation aims to protect our children from the harmful effects of chemical agents by clearly prohibiting their usage on minors.”

MORE | ‘Disturbing & unacceptable’: NY AG James, Rep. Morelle on 9-year-old pepper sprayed by RPD

The City of Rochester released a statement Monday evening saying officers involved in the incident have been suspended. The city did not specify which officers, or how many.

Mayor Lovely Warren is calling for changes to New York State law that would allow cities to take more immediate action to discipline officers “in cases like this one.”

Brouk and Meeks have scheduled a virtual press conference at 4 p.m. Monday to discuss the proposed legislation.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

Body camera footage

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