Bustle came across the warrant as she working on the incident at the ball game and found Asia at her friend’s house. The officer put handcuffs on Asia and took her into custody.
“I was scared. I was nervous. I was upset. My friend started crying,” Asia said.
Bustle took Asia to the police station with plans to have her transported to a juvenile facility in Elizabethtown. Asia told Bustle that her case had been resolved earlier in the month. The officer called the court-designated worker involved in Asia’s case and learned that the pickup order no longer was valid. Asia was returned to her friend’s house, humiliated.
“She was already upset from what happened at the ball game and then to be arrested on top of that on a case that wasn’t even open anymore, all in one night,” Wanda Burgess said. “Why this warrant was still floating around, I don’t know.”
Lack of access
Assistant Danville Police Chief Tony Gray said he could not talk in detail about Asia’s case because she is a juvenile. He did say, however, that Bustle acted according to protocol in the situation by acting on a warrant she believed was active, calling the court worker and then releasing the juvenile.
“I don’t see where we did anything inappropriate,” Gray said.
The problem, Gray said, is that the privacy that surrounds the juvenile justice system makes it more difficult for officers to determine the status of pickup orders, and sometimes juveniles are taken into custody on inactive warrants until the matter is cleared up by a case worker.
“It’s juvenile stuff, so it’s more secure. It’s not out there in the public,” Gray explained. “We don’t have access to some juvenile information as police officers.”
Unlike an adult warrant, Gray said juvenile pickup orders are not filed in the computer system that dispatchers use to keep track of which warrants have been cleared. That means officers sometimes have to take a juvenile into custody first and ask questions later, he said.
The department has met with court officials to try to streamline the process but has not yet come up with a workable solution, Gray said.
Wanda Burgess said it’s time for a better system to be put in place to save juveniles the embarrassment of being taken into custody without good cause.
“I’m not trying to make a big deal out of this, but I think it’s bull,” she said.