12 Model Law Enforcement Policies
for Youth Interaction

Model Policies

Each POLICY provides law enforcement agencies and officers with guidance on how to interact with youth in developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, equitable ways that comply with the law. Additional source and background information for the policy can be found in the APPENDIX.

  • POLICY 1  |  Appendix 1 Overview of Youth Interactions Policies
  • POLICY 2  |  Appendix 2 Investigatory Stops, Non-Custodial Interviews, and Search and Seizure of Youth
  • POLICY 3  |  Appendix 3 Arrest, Transport, Booking, and Temporary Custody
  • POLICY 4  |  Appendix 4 Miranda Warnings, Waiver of Rights, and Youth Interrogations
  • POLICY 5  |  Appendix 5 Use of Force with Youth
  • POLICY 6  |  Appendix 6 Fair and Impartial Policing of Youth: Race, National Origin, and Immigration Status
  • POLICY 7  |  Appendix 7 Fair and Impartial Policing: LGBTQ+ Youth
  • POLICY 8Appendix 8 Policing of Youth with Disabilities, Experiencing Mental Health Crises, or Impaired By Drugs or Alcohol
  • POLICY 9  |  Appendix 9 Protection of Youth Who Are Vulnerable Due to the Arrest of Parents or Other Caretakers, the Execution of Residential Search Warrants, or Commercial Sexual Exploitation
  • POLICY 10Appendix 10 Law Enforcement Interactions With Students
  • POLICY 11 Data Collection
  • POLICY 12 Transparency and Accountability

Youth-Specific Policies are Necessary

Rising reports of harmful interactions between youth and law enforcement agencies and the lack of model policies led Strategies for Youth to fill this void with its 12 Model Law Enforcement Policies for Youth Interactions. These policies are the first of their kind to be introduced and provide a valuable roadmap for law enforcement leaders, elected officials, communities and insurance providers.

Making an Impact

SFY's Model Policies are the cover story of the Spring 2024 Issue of Juvenile Justice Update. In this issue the Editor remarks, "The Model Policies presented in this issue are neither radical nor confrontational. They are grounded in experience, understanding, respect, and common sense. They, or something very much like them, should become a part of the charter of every law enforcement agency in the country." Read »

SFY's Shelley Jackson submitted comments to the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice in response to its request on how to reduce number of youth going into the juvenile legal system. Read »

Dispatch, the USDOJ COPS office newsletter, released a feature article about the need for policies and SFY's Model Policies initiative. Read »

For the Media

Visit our Model Policies media page for media coverage, our press release, inquiry contact, and related information.

Benefits of Adopting These Policies

  • Win-Win. These policies offer a win-win opportunity for proactive law enforcement leaders who want their agencies to get out ahead of issues with youth, thereby reducing agency and officer exposure to liability.
  • Appropriate for Youth. These policies can help agencies operationalize how to treat youth differently than adults, by interacting with youth in a developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, equitable way.
  • Lead the Way. Leaders should review and consider proactively adopting policies that would benefit the agency and jurisdiction. They can also use the policies to affirmatively shape approaches to policing youth instead of having state legislation impose such requirements.
  • Good Strategy. Pro-active adoption of these policies prior to a tragic incident is good strategy, and reflects a commitment to community policing, and to ensuring the best outcomes for youth.
  • Community Trust. As observers of police reform efforts in jurisdictions where youth have been harmed, SFY notes that once a community loses trust in law enforcement due to it use of unreasonable and excessive use of force, it is very difficult for agencies to re-establish their credibility, legitimacy, and trust with their community. Pro-active adoption of these policies helps to foster and maintain that trust.
  • Roadmap for Reform. These policies can serve as a roadmap for use in agency, legislative, and other discussions, and can be presented as models for adoption at the state, local, and regional levels.
  • Comprehensive. While law enforcement agencies may currently have one or two policies for interactions with youth, SFY’s 12 Model Law Enforcement policies offers a comprehensive template of key areas where policies must support legal protections for youth, equitable, and effective policing.
  • Vetted Policy Examples. Where agencies claim there are no such model policies, these policies can be used to rebut those claims, by offering examples of policies based on legal and social science research, policies adopted pursuant to consent decrees, and policies vetted by psychologists, law enforcement, prosecutors, and attorneys who represent youth in juvenile courts, civil rights and police misconduct litigation.
  • Improve Outcomes. SFY offers these policies as a vehicle to avoid unnecessary interactions between youth and law enforcement, ensure the best possible outcomes for youth when interactions do occur, reduce enduring racial disparities in arrests and use of force against youth, and ensure protection of youths’ rights.
  • Shape Policy. Use the policies to shape statewide approaches to policing youth instead of having a response imposed by state legislation that restricts local options.
  • Reduce Exposure. The policies can serve as a checklist for strategies to reduce exposure to agency and individual officer liability by making explicit prohibitions for conduct such as unreasonable force, unlawful search and seizure, race or disability discrimination, and violations of youth’s Miranda rights. SFY offers these policies for insurers to consider when determining coverage of law enforcement agencies’ practices, especially as regards youth.
  • Incentive for Adopting Better Practices. The value of using these policies as an incentive to eliminate practices that are likely to lead to costly litigation—and put departments at risk of state and federal investigations and costly consent decrees—makes this a worthwhile investment for youth, law enforcement, municipalities and counties.

Poll Highlights a Need for Change

Poll results show Americans want policies and training for law enforcement interactions with youth.

Do Law Enforcement Agencies Have Written Policies For Interactions With Youth??

No Data Found

Strategies for Youth wishes to thank the 5 Together Foundation for their generous support which has made this endeavor possible.

Join Our Growing List of Supporters

Supporting Organizations

  • Citizens for Juvenile Justice
  • Civil Rights & Police Accountability Project, Mandel Legal Clinic, University of Chicago
  • Coalition for Juvenile Justice
  • Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform
  • Marion County Commission on Youth
  • Michigan Center for Youth Justice
  • McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown
  • National Police Accountability Project
  • Pacific Juvenile Defender Center
  • Criminal Justice & Legal Studies Department, University of Mississippi

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