Teens Resisting Police Officers More Frequently

By Scanlan, Dan | The Florida Times Union, January 21, 2004 | Go to article overview

Teens Resisting Police Officers More Frequently


Scanlan, Dan, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Dan Scanlan, Staff writer

The two police officers responding to the 911 call late Jan. 3 at the Mayfair Village apartment complex probably didn't expect much trouble when they arrived to find some teens fighting.

But by the time they and two others left the complex at 3735 Beach Blvd. 25 minutes later, they had been cursed at, punched, scratched or had their hair pulled during a fight with some of the gathering crowd, and arrested a 19-year-old man and three teenage girls ages 14, 15 and 17 for attacking them.

Ten days later, the Wolfson High School resource officer had to arrest a 16-year-old student on charges of assault and battery against a school official and resisting an officer without violence after he hit a teacher twice during a discussion in the hallway Jan. 13, and resisted being handcuffed by an officer, police said.

Law enforcement officials, prosecutors and school officials say teens do fight back and resist authority. But while the Wolfson High School incident was not unusual, they say the apartment complex incident in which officers were cursed at and attacked was.

But unfortunately, incidents like it are starting to happen more often, they say.

"I wish I could say that was completely out of the norm and shocking, but it isn't," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin, who is in charge of the juvenile division as well. "I don't want to say there is an epidemic. We have prosecuted many juveniles for resisting arrest . . . They will get in a fight with a school resource officer at school."

Plotkin said respect for law enforcement has dropped dramatically in many circles in society.

"If you have a situation where an officer is trying to respond to a violent situation, you will get juveniles or adults that won't respect the uniform," he said. "And people like this have other problems and disrespect authority in general."

Assistant Chief Rick Graham, whose officers were attacked Jan. 3, said he had no idea why the teens turned on the police, and saw no improper police action.

"It disappointed me more than surprised me that young teens would oppose law enforcement in such a violent manner," he said. "An incident of that magnitude is a bit unusual, and to have that many officers involved . . . That is an unusual occurrence in this zone. We have some 15- or 16-year-olds that will challenge an officer and show a blatant disregard for an officer."

The Jan. 3 incident started after two officers were sent to the complex at 7 p.m. following a 911 call. They found teens fighting before a large group of people and tried to get them to go home. They arrested one man who wouldn't leave and who started cursing and trying to punch them, according to a police report.

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