More than six years after Cleveland police fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he played with a toy gun in a park, sparking national outrage and calls for change, the city is poised to introduce a policy aimed at reshaping how officers interact with children.

The nine-page document, which requires that officers consider factors like the perceived age, physical build and emotional state of anyone under 18 before using force, will be rolled out in the coming months after police develop a training curriculum.

Cleveland is the exception; most police departments do not offer clear guidelines about the use of force on youth, experts said. The change comes as police nationwide continue to face scrutiny following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May. A video showing police in Rochester, New York, handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl as she cried out for her father prompted wide outrage when it was released last month.

The years it took for Cleveland to adopt the policy — even after an infamous case like Rice’s — illustrate how difficult it can be to change policing. Some critics of the police department also said the new policy doesn’t go far enough.

But Lisa Thurau, a Boston-based expert who trains police on how to deal with children, said Cleveland’s policy is a step in the right direction for what she sees as a national crisis. Her organization, Strategies for Youth, tracks lawsuits and media reports of police use of force with children nationwide.

“You have a set of policies by which supervisors can hold officers accountable,” Thurau said of Cleveland’s new measures. “All of that is a huge step forward in the snail’s pace of progress.”

Read the full article about Cleveland's law on policing kids by Abbie VanSickle and Jamiles Lartey at The Marshall Project.