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Safeguarding Children at the Time of Parental Arrest: Law Enforcement Pre-Arrest/Arrest Checklist

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2015
2 pages
This checklist provides guidance to law enforcement officers in safeguarding children whose parents are arrested, with attention to officers' actions and decisions on behalf of the children before, during, and after a parent's arrest.
Four officer actions are recommended before the arrest. These include asking the dispatcher and other officers who work in the arrestee's neighborhood about whether children live at the arrest site, and if so, how many; drive by the house where the arrest will occur to see whether there are observable indications of children's presence; and determine whether it is possible to arrest the parent when children are not present at the house. In addition, an interpreter should accompany officers when it is known that the parent does not speak English. Twelve checklist items pertain to officer decisions and actions during the arrest of a parent when a child is present. Among the recommendations are that an adult in the home be assigned to a child during the arrest; allowing the parent being arrested to explain and reassure the child or have the officer reassure the child that both he/she and his/her parent will be safe; and perform the actual arrest out of the sight and hearing of the child. Seven checklist items address officer actions and decisions during an arrest when the children of the parent are not present at the scene. They pertain to soliciting information from the parent about the care of the child and informing the parent about the services that will be provided the child under State law. Seven checklist items focus on the information that officers should obtain regarding the circumstances and needs of the child.