A Guy Near a School — and Nine Policemen


While I can’t be sure that these incidents of overkill are increasing, what I am certain IS happening is the demonization of men in the vicinity of children. It also seems to me that we must have a surfeit of police, at least in some neighborhoods, or why would this non-incident warrant NINE cops’ attention? From hhhikasrhy
The Daily Kos comes this story

….After about 25 years in the NYC metropolitan area, I recently returned home to where I grew up in south Jersey. My stepfather had passed away last October, and my 88 year-old mother didn’t want to leave the house she had lived in for over 50 years. So, my two older sisters and myself decided (for various reasons) I should at least give it a try.

One beautiful autumn day, I decided to take a walk around the old neighborhood. As I did, I noticed the children at the elementary school I had attended almost 50 years ago, were at recess. This naturally brought back memories, and I was particularly struck by how they were still playing the same games I recalled so vividly: kickball, hula-hoop, etc. I was so struck by nostalgia, et al, that I decided to take a little break, and sat down beneath a tree, that was well beyond from the playground, but still within clear view of the school. As I sat there a little while (musing on all sorts of things), I noticed two policemen appear to my immediate right.

At first, I thought absolutely nothing of it. After all, this was the neighborhood I had grown up in, and had attended this very same school in. So, I was polite, and assumed their presence had something to do with something (or someone) other than me.

Of course, it had everything to do with the man — or at least his Y chromosome. The first policemen were soon joined by seven other police officers, the man’s identification was demanded, and a brief interrogation occurred, and the man himself said, “Well, I’ll certainly never do this again!”

Now I realize I’m sounding a bit perhaps impudent about this. And I did think it all a rather absurd bit of drama and overkill considering the actual situation. But who could entirely (or at all) blame them? After all, someone from the school had contacted them about some stranger “loitering around the schoolyard during recess.” One of the cops even said to me, “Don’t you watch the news?”

Why? Is watching the news and getting ever more paranoid about children’s safety the only way to be a decent citizen? Is it un-American to treat public space as public space? Should we consider every man who looks at kids a criminal until proven otherwise?

After they assured me that they wouldn’t be dropping by my house, and giving my mother a wholly undeserved heart attack, they dispersed….

I realize this little episode wasn’t exactly the storming of the Bastille, and a relatively pathetic, middle-class/middle-aged, pseudo “crime scene” at that. And yes: I shouldn’t have been there to begin with. 

Wait — he came to the conclusion that he shouldn’t have been there, in his hometown, walking around his old school? That’s a terrible lesson to learn. It’s learning that society’s fear trumps freedom.

Isn’t that like the cookbook recipe for tyranny?

Freedom must win.


Perhaps these officers have just been summoned to the site of a non-crime: A man, in public!

Officers! Come quickly! There’s a man sitting down near a school! 

67 Responses to A Guy Near a School — and Nine Policemen

  1. Doug November 16, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    I like the last sentence: “But there seems to me something I’m just missing and can’t quite put my finger on, that I should have learned from this bit of silliness.”

    Yes, you did miss something. It starts with “c” and ends with “lue.”

  2. Beth November 16, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Doug, what are you talking about? He needed a clue that men should never, ever, ever be within what, a mile, of any child?

  3. Vicki Bradley November 16, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    What exactly do you mean to imply, Doug?

  4. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    100% of the people who victimize children are men.
    … unless you count the ones who weren’t.

  5. Steve S November 16, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    It is ridiculous that he concludes he shouldn’t have been there. It is also equally as ridiculous that the police in that community had so little to do that they could send that many to harass a person that was not doing anything wrong.

  6. Roger the Shrubber November 16, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    I think I prefer ‘Snitches get stitches’ over ‘See something, say something.’

  7. Dhewco November 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    In my home county, all the old schools have been replaced by shiny new buildings set away from the street. It’s like they don’t want people to see the children from the street. You have to be in the back parking lot to even see the playground equipment. It doesn’t feel like a community school anymore.

  8. bro November 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    I can understand his feelings, but there are too many pedos.

    Children are grabbed up just walking from school.

    He has no children attending the school.

    Better safe than sorry.

  9. Richard November 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    I noted in our weekly police blotter one call was to investigate a report of a man watching children near a school. I don’t know the outcome, but this occurred in small Wyoming town. The sad part of this “stranger danger” attitude is that when something goes wrong most of us may end up relying on a stranger to help us out. This is especially true for children. We should teach them judgement, not blanket fear. Unfortunately, that means some of us need to know the difference.

  10. Richard November 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Bro, seriously. I hope you are kidding because if not, it’s that non-factual biased attitude that’s causing the problem. Do you even read the info on this site??????

  11. MichaelF November 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    “but there are too many pedos.

    Children are grabbed up just walking from school.

    He has no children attending the school.”

    whoa! Someone likes to spread disinformation.
    Even if they are “grabbed up”, I am assuming like Chiclets or some other small tasty child-sized candy, the kids were on school grounds and he was way away from them watching from a bench. That’s hardly within “grabbing up” distance.

    It’s sad when you can’t even revisit your childhood not because they’ve paved it over but because you are WWM (walking while male).

  12. Suanne Laqueur November 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Hey “bro” – how does interrogating this man make kids safer? They’re on a supervised school playground during school hours. Completely safe. NINE cops were needed to question him? Rather than eighteen eyes on the streets later when the kids were, like, walking home from school? Better unnecessary safety overkill to make us a more sorry-ass society?

  13. Buffy November 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    And bro, do you have any idea how many millions of kids walk to and from school every day, world-wide, without getting kidnapped? (James, please do not give me an exact number of school-aged children in the world.)

    A person using a PUBLIC space that is near a school should not have to be afraid of anything. And if the “pedo” problem in that particular community is so out-of-control, maybe eliminate the public spaces within, say, 5 miles of all schools. That should do it.

  14. lollipoplover November 16, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    “Better safe than sorry.”

    Our school has a lecture series for parents (great idea) on current topics relevant to school aged kids. This month its about strategies to help tame your child’s anxiety. These “Better safe than sorry” attitudes are leading to a mental health crisis among our children and young adults. It is not “better” in any way to instill paranoia and irrational thoughts in our child and then have to watch them suffer with anxiety and panic attacks.
    It’s cruel actually.

    In Delaware last week, several schools went on lockdown because an Emu escaped a petting zoo. Add “Emu” to “Single Male” on your list of dangers to school children. It truly is a scary world out there.


  15. david zaitzeff November 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    The actions of the police sound like an unconstitutional Terry stop and what is more, the police grabbing his wallet go beyond a Terry stop and into an unreasonable search and seizure.

    I read the article at dailykos . . . it is a bit worse than the excerpts provided here . . .

    It is the kind of thing that some people should “protest” against by making use of the benches and park on other days . . . and learning enough to sue the police for wrongful Terry stops . . .

  16. bob magee November 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm #


    odds of:

    hit by lightning stranger abduction
    0.000143% 0.000155%

    it is not a common thing

  17. BL November 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    ” I noticed two policemen appear to my immediate right.”

    What?! PoliceMEN? Surely you mean policewomen? Can’t have men near a school!

    And men with guns at that.

    But they’re from the government and they’re here to help, so it’s OK.

    (slams head against wall)

  18. Shelly Stow November 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    “…too many pedos…”

    Are you counting all of those with actual pedophilia, even the ones who have never and will never commit an offense, or only the ones who have molested a child?

    “Children are grabbed up just walking from school.”

    Indeed they are. Children are also struck by lightening. They are also run over by street sweepers. I would not be at all surprised if the numbers of children falling victim to these events are roughly the same; actually, I believe the lightening strikes would beat out the walking-home-from-school abductions.

  19. Warren November 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Yep, after reading the original article, co-operating with the cops would have gone out the window. Their approach was heavy handed to say the least. I would also be filing a complaint about the illegal search of the wallet.

    In situations like this, exercise your rights. I understand that the police have to respond to calls. But all that was called for was a cop having a pleasant conversation with this man. Not interrogate him, demand and then grab his ID, and search his wallet. Multiple units and officers was not just overkill but dangerous.

    As long as people like this man continue to just accept this sort of action it will only get worse. The police are not above the law. They are not the law. They are public servants employed to uphold the law.

  20. bmommyx2 November 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Very sad. I don’t know why people make the assumption that there are people out there just waiting to “get” children & do them harm. I know so many parents who act this way & they are teaching the children to paranoid as well. One day after picking up my 4yr old from preschool we were waiting for his older brother to get out. A young boy walked up to me and asked who are you? I wasn’t sure what he was getting at or why he was asking but I played along & I said so & so’s mom, who are you? & he answered (without giving a name) I’m a 4th grader here. I said OK then. It was very odd. I’ve had similar conversations before from kids questioning me. It’s very weird. The elementary school is next to the park & and on another occasion after watching a school performance for my oldest my little one wanted to play on the playground. I wanted to leave before the kids got out for recess because I knew it would be harder to get my son to leave. Meanwhile a little girl whose class was having PE came up to me & told me that we should go because the big kids would be out soon & it wouldn’t be a good idea to stay. I’m not sure why she thought that, but wow I would have never gone up to an adult & advise them what to do. It was very weird. I’ve had several of these type of experiences before & they are very odd.

  21. Doug November 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    “bro” is just a drive by troller, never to appear again.

  22. Doug November 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Vicki Bradley, I mean to say that the author of that piece isn’t very smart. But, it’s a piece on Kos, which explains a lot.

  23. Aimee November 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    We pay more attention to the “stranger danger pedofiles” than the real ones. There are so many children being molested and raped by family members, friends, and teachers than people out on the street. I know we have a sex trafficking problem, but I personally have not heard about the latest kidnapping of a child from a school playground. More fear to feed the masses.

  24. lollipoplover November 16, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    @Aimee- the danger for most children is not the strange man sitting under a tree near the recess the yard but the person walking through the front door of their home. The majority of kids are abused by family members and people known to them (90%) than strangers in public spaces. Perhaps shift the mental panic button to calling out red flags of domestic abuse of children vs. worrying about men sitting under trees near schools.

  25. Jill November 16, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    It sounds like thee guy who was sitting peacefully under a tree, minding his own business, was afraid of what would happen if the police should go to his house in the course of their “investigationL He was concerned that it would frighten his elderly mother to find the cops at the door.
    People cooperate with unreasonable demands by the police because they’re afraid, Either araid of getting shot (not an unreasonable fear) orr afraid of the implied threat of what might happen if they don’t hand over their phone, their camera or their wallet.
    The man should have stated his right to be on public property and refused to say anything further. If they wanted to arrest him for sitting under a tree they could go right ahead.

  26. Kristin M November 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    The most ironic (or saddest, or funniest, however you want to view it) thing about these “kids get grabbed up all the time” bs is, yes, children DO get abducted more often than they should (which is, to say, not at all), however they are way more often than not “grabbed up” by SOMEONE THEY KNOW, not a random SWM pedofiliac.

  27. Beth November 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    @Doug, so you’re saying that you, yourself, are never near any place children gather, because you are smart enough to have a clue? That must be tough, and restrictive, to stay away from anywhere there might be kids, so good for you.

  28. hineata November 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    @Lollipoplover – I believe emus actually can be dangerous. Unlike the vast majority of men.

    High time men of all ages formed up groups and went to sit outside school playgrounds. Or better yet, went into those playgrounds to play ball with the kids. This rubbish has been going on much too long.

  29. Doug November 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Beth, I actually make it a point to smile, wave, and say ‘hello’ to children I encounter while going about my life.

    I also understand statistics, and how fear plays much larger roles in people’s lives than it should.

    The author of that piece isn’t very smart. He believes the drivel and easily disproven “facts” that media feed him. And then he gets on Kos and seeks affirmation that he did indeed do wrong. Eye-Dee-ten-T.

  30. lollipoplover November 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    @hineata- Yes, wild emus are basically feathery ninjas and can be dangerous, especially if cornered. This one, nicknamed “Eddie” (he has since been captured) was a domesticated emu kept as a pet. Could he be a danger? I guess. So can seagulls. I simply can’t see placing a school on lockdown and send messages home to parents for a large flightless bird. Or a single male.

  31. Buffy November 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    But a lockdown? Really? Can’t they just say to the kids, “hey, an emu got loose and because of the nature of emus (ha! maybe this could be an educational moment!) we can’t go outside for recess today…or dismissal will be a little late today and we’re letting your parents know”.

    I hate that they have to resort to their apparently beloved prison terms for this.

  32. Warren November 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    Emus? That would be cool. Back in our day they would have enlisted volunteers from the highest grade to come out and try to corral it, with the janitor.

    When my youngest daughter was in grade 8, they had a semi-lockdown, just no one allowed outside because of a stray dog. My girl could see the dog from her classroom, and according to her tried to point out to her teacher, the dog was clean, seemed healthy, and was wearing a collar and tags. And volunteered to handle the dog. But wasn’t permitted. So animal control shows up and did the exact same thing my girl was planning on doing. Keeping her distance, crouch down and pleasantly call the dog. Apparently the dog went right up to the officer, rolled on it’s back and wanted attention. Turned out to be a students dog that got out and tracked him to school.

  33. John November 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm #


    “Should we consider every man who looks at kids a criminal until proven otherwise?”

    Well of course we should Lenore! Don’t you realize when children are involved, the Constitution does not apply?

  34. Diana November 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    A friend of mine was sitting in his vehicle on a Sunday afternoon last February watching people far out on the ice, fishing. He was having a snack he’d picked up at a nearby convenience store. His was the only vehicle on the parking lot. Suddenly he saw lights flashing, as 5 police cars surrounded him. An officer approached him and asked him if he had been to an adjacent park earlier. They took his ID, looked at pictures on his camera (which were taken days before of indoor subjects) and arrested him for “proximity to a public skating rink”. He had not been out of his car and was there only a few minutes as he passed through the area. Result: He was on the TV news three days running and in all the local news papers. The “endangerment” charge was dropped, eventually.

    Another case of too many cops on a slow day with nothing to do, trying to justify their unnecessary existence.

  35. Doug November 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    Diana – Link?

  36. Buffy November 16, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Being proximate to a public skating rink is an actual crime? Apparently the lawmakers in that community don’t have enough to do either.

  37. Maggie November 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    This makes me sad. The guy’s conclusion “It’s okay be be considered a pedophile simply by being by a school.”

    We don’t assume everyone who is by a liquor store is a drunk, and we don’t consider every person walking by a bank is a bank robber. We’ve been told over and over not to judge someone’s color, race, ethnicity, religion. But a man is immediately suspect?

    There is something really f’ed up if he feels this is okay.

  38. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    There is an old joke.

    Widow Johnson stood up in church and denounced brother Smith.
    “He has turned to strong drink! Why, with my own eyes I have seen his wheelbarrow in front of the tavern!”
    The next week, she denounced brother Smith again.
    “Why, with my own eyes I have seen his wheelbarrow in front of the liquor store!”
    The next week, she denounced brother Smith yet again.
    “Why, with my own eyes I have seen his wheelbarrow in front of the brewery!”

    That night, Brother Smith left his wheelbarrow in front of Widow Johnson’s house all night long.

  39. BL November 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    “‘Should we consider every man who looks at kids a criminal until proven otherwise?’

    Well of course we should Lenore! Don’t you realize when children are involved, the Constitution does not apply?”

    Should it? Nothing in the Constitution gives you the right to look at kids. That’s for the individual states to decide.

  40. Brian42 November 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    The police has no right, anywhere, to get any information from you unless he first charges you for a crime. As long as it isn’t illegal to look at other people in public spaces, and you aren’t charged with doing that, you can tell them to stay away.

    What kind of people become brutal police officers? Cowards? Whose authority is empowered through fake terrorism?

    You should also ask the police and people in general where the media got their information.
    Are they really so weak they have to hand their lives over to an authority? Are they ever going to grow up and stop solving their problems with warfare. Authority worship is escapism.

    There’s plenty of information about government child petting online (including what the education was designed to do to with children).

  41. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    “The police has no right, anywhere, to get any information from you unless he first charges you for a crime.”

    This is not correct.
    Most states have laws that require identification upon request. And… if you want to invoke your right to remain silent, you cannot legally do so by simply remaining silent. You have to affirmatively invoke the right, or the police can keep trying to get you to talk.

  42. sexhysteria November 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    How pathetic! I’ve heard that question before: Don’t you watch the news? As if the highly selected, biased, and sensationalist “news” media should be a citizen’s guide to reasonable behavior!

  43. Tim November 16, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    @sexhysteria, What is even more scary is that the police themselves are using the news (which as you know, exists to make a profit and not to inform the public) as a guide to their own behavior.

  44. sigh November 16, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    Used to be that a guy walking or sitting somewhere near a park would have to have his penis exposed in order to draw the concern or ire of bystanders, much less the cops.

    So just having one in your pants is now reason enough to suspect you are up to no good.

  45. Donald November 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    Outrage often overrules logic.

    For example. There was a rumor where I lived that there was a cat fur trading ring nearby. These people would kidnap the neighborhood cats so that they can sell their fur. Cats normally go missing all the time for various reasons. However people in my area started chanting ‘the blackmarket cat fur trade’.

    Let’s look at this from a logical aspect. How profitable is it to sell cat fur? How many cats can they secretly collect? I’m sure it’s possible to have a cat farm in a 3rd world country but how likely is it to have a cat kidnapping ring in Australia? The profits would be non existing and the risk for prison very high. This wouldn’t make any sense. However, outrage wins out. Many people got sucked in and helped to spread this rumor anyway.

    How about another example? On this blog someone called Greg posted that it’s a fact that children get kidnapped often. He also said that he saw a suspicious person with a camera at a park. He called the police. The cops apprehended the suspect and found rope and duct tape in his van.

    My question is, how did Greg know? Did the police report to him of their findings? More than likely he saw it on a ‘Jerry Springer’ style of a news report that did their best to make it sound as dramatic and malicious as possible. I have rope and duct tape in my truck as well.

    How about another? I got passed a message on facebook to sign a petition. A man was released by police when they investigated him but found nothing wrong. However Facebook clearly ‘knows’ that this man was masterbating in the bushes while spying on children. I was being urged to join the campaign to put this dangerous man behind bars. It’s a ‘fact’ that Facebook knows more about protecting civilization than our law enforcement agency. It’s a good thing that we have facebook and fox news to protect society.

    Outrage wins over logic all too many times. Meanwhile the fear culture is invading like an aggressive cancer and many people think that it’s everybody else’s fault. They themselves only watch real news and don’t help to finance the ‘Jerry Springer’ ones.

    I use to enjoy reading the outrageous headlines such as, ELVIS WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS AND IS LIVING ON NEPTUNE and A TITANIC SURVIVOR WAS FOUND FLOATING ON AN ICEBURG FOR 80 YEARS! However it didn’t occur to me that people would start to not know the difference between reality and headlines that are designed to sell.

    People love to spread stories that sound like a CSI episode

    You helped prove my point

  46. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    ” I’m sure it’s possible to have a cat farm in a 3rd world country but how likely is it to have a cat kidnapping ring in Australia?”

    I don’t know about Australia, but in the U.S., a ridiculous number of cats and dogs are euthanized because they aren’t adopted. A fairly regular supply could be had… if there was any market for cat fur, which there is not (except the kind still wrapped around a kitten). Rabbit fur and cat fur are similar, and the supply of rabbit fur adequate for the demand can be obtained from rabbits raised for food.

  47. Donald November 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    “Don’t you watch the news?”

    I like the HBO series Newsroom. John McAvoy admits that the news gets financed the same way and from the same source as the reality TV show, Jersey Shore.

    It must be very difficult to report accurate news when you have to compete with other news channels that alter their story to produce the most drama. With all this going on, how can a person know what drama is fabricated and what drama is real?

  48. Anna November 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    “Most states have laws that require identification upon request.”

    Really? And so by implication citizens have an obligation to be carrying their “papers” at all times? My political theorist father taught me that particular obligation is the mark of a totalitarian state, as opposed to a liberal dmocracy. But you may be right these days – thank you, Patriot Act!

  49. bob magee November 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    “The police has no right, anywhere, to get any information from you unless he first charges you for a crime.”

    there must be reasonable suspicion of a crime

  50. MarkM November 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    The statutes that require you to identify yourself only apply if the police have detained you. They must have reasonable cause to do so. You are not typically required to produce an id, just state your name- review your own state law for the details. Beyond that, you should never consent to a search or tell the police anything more beyond the legally minimum required. If arrested, say nothing and ask for an attorney. Do not keep talking.

  51. sue November 16, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    I’m very sceptical about this story. First of all, the town has 70, 000 people. It is NOT a small town. My town, nearby, has 5000 people. In our case, all cops on duty would respond. In his town if nine cops responded, he was considered a major threat. Not buying this story.

  52. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    “Really? And so by implication citizens have an obligation to be carrying their “papers” at all times?”

    I suppose so, if you need “papers” to remind you who you are.

  53. James Pollock November 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    “The statutes that require you to identify yourself only apply if the police have detained you.”

    This is almost, but not quite, correct. They have to have the authority to detain you; they do not have to have already done so. (assuming the state has a “stop and identify” statute).

  54. Jessica November 16, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    Wouldn’t it be fun to start do a sit-in? But instead of black people doing it in stores and restaurants, we can have men without children at the park. Maybe they can all take pictures while they’re at it. It could be big enough to get people to question their own prejudices, and hey, if nine cops show up for one guy in the vicinity of a school, think of how many might show up for 50 or more in an actual park!

  55. hineata November 17, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    @lollipoplover – aww. I missed the part where he was a pet. Sounds cute ☺.

    I wish we still had moa (sort of like emu, but some varieties were close to 3 metres tall) running round. Maybe we’d get a chance to have more lockdowns ……

  56. George November 17, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    “Don’t you watch the news?”

    This puzzles me. I watch the news. Are there a lot of news stories that relate to this incident? I have not seen any on any TV news show.

  57. Tim November 17, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    @Geroge, Thinking about this further, I think when something becomes popular in public consciousness, it doesn’t actually have to be seen on the news, people just think they see it on the news. Or if there is a story across the country, people remember it as a local story.

  58. Regular Reader November 17, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    If there’s a market for cat fur out there, someone please post an address. My two longhairs (happy, well-adjusted, not fearful) produce about a cubic decimeter a week.

    I agree with the suggestion of a sit-in. In my area, we could be even scarier — we have what are called SPARK parks, the S standing for school. They’re schoolyard playgrounds that double as public parks after school hours.

  59. Warren November 17, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    I have even seen people tell a story about a local boy or girl, that is told with such incredible detail. And they really hate it when you can give them the facts that it was Criminal Minds Episode #, and episode title, or Law and Order or other TV shows.

  60. Dhewco November 17, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    I miss the days when kids could walk everywhere. In my childhood hometown of almost 4800, I walked miles all over town. To the library, to the arcade, to one of two parks, and to the public pool. I did this without parents and without injury. I was a cute little, sandy blond boy up until just before puberty. (gained weight, hair turned dark.). No one molested me until I was 13 and that was a family friend.

    The stories of Adam Walsh and Steven Stayner, while very sad, have been over-dramatized and led to the weakening of our youth. Made parents, police (who should know better) and lawmakers paranoid about the fellow in the white van and that lurker in the bushes.

  61. EricS November 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Sadly a badge doesn’t make one insusceptible to fear, paranoia, anger, and all the other human traits that make people become irrational. Yes, I’m saying cops, doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, parents, grand parents, etc… as long as you are a human being, are susceptible to ignorance and bigotry. It’s a choice we all make.

    Unfortunately, there are 9 cops in NY who are one of those irrational people. Which is kind of scary to begin with. An irrational, fearful, even paranoid person with a badge and gun, and the option to abuse that authority. A very bad cycle in society.

  62. Anna November 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    “I suppose so, if you need “papers” to remind you who you are.”

    Ah – you just mean they can ask your name? I took you to be saying they could demand to see an official ID, which would imply an obligation to carry one at all times.

  63. Tommy Udo November 17, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    My wife and I sat down on a bench in a park where some children were playing. Their mothers, of course, were all watching. After a minute or so, a boy about five years old approached us and told us that kids were playing there, so we should leave. I just laughed. Fortunately, nobody called the police. Maybe I got off easy because my wife was there, too.

  64. Dhewco November 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Yeah, I’m willing to bet having your wife there made all the difference. Alone, parents probably would have called someone or confronted you themselves.

  65. James Pollock November 17, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    “Ah – you just mean they can ask your name?”

    It’s a little more than asking… failure to provide your identity is a crime in those states… (but, as noted previously, they have to have a good reason to ask before it rises to that level.)

  66. JLM November 19, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    While I am still too gobsmacked by (a) this story and (b) the gentleman’s reaction to the whole incident (that he believes he SHOULDN’T have been there after all) to comment directly on that, I would like to share an ID-providing story that I thought was a little odd.

    My husband and I are Australian citizens and were living in New Jersey with our young daughter (who was also Australian). We went to spend the weekend at a friend’s farm in upstate NY (not so far that it was anywhere near the Canadian border – probaby a good 2hr drive south of the border). So, as you can imagine, we did not consider this an international trip requiring us to bring all our travel documentation.

    Lo and behold, on the way home, we were stopped along the I87 maybe 40 mins south of our friend’s town. It was border police (WTF?). They checked our licenses (we had NJ licenses, but they obviously stated they were dependent on our residential status), and then wanted to see our paper and passports. We almost got into a LOT of trouble (of the serious immigration problems sort) because didn’t have our passports with us when making a 3 hour drive from one state to the next.

    By the time we left the USA, I had had enough interactions with law enforcement that I was actually more scared of them than thankful they were there to keep me safe and help me in a crisis.

  67. Dhewco November 19, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Yeah, JLM, we have to protect against all those Australian terrorists and their familes. 😛