A 7 year old in Westbrook, Maine, was playing at the park within eyesight of her family’s house. Someone called 911 (of course)Â andÂ police swooped in.Â They took the girl toÂ the precinct because, as this bzekdfktke
WMTW reporter notes, “Mom WASN’T watching.”
You mean, mom didn’t devote her afternoon to sitting at the side of the park and watching her child’s every move? Â Tsk, tsk. The child was on her own for about an hour and, as the town’s police chief Â tells the reporter, “That’s a long time for a 7 year old girl to be by herself any place, let alone a park.”
Yes, the park is certainly the last place you’d ever want to see a kid hanging out. What kind of crazy mom would let her kids go there?
Nicole Jensen. She’s the mom. She sends her kids out to play and now she is charged with child endangerment.
Luckily the police were able to “reunite” the mother and child Â — as if this was post-Katrina or something. As if it they couldn’t have simply walked the girl across the street to her house, instead of hauling her off to the police station where they “cared for her” — like a refugee. The police chief is thankful her department had all the necessary “resources and facilities” for saving this kid.
So from now on, let’s hope Nicole Jensen has learned her lesson: Â Parks aren’t for kids! They’re for real estate values. They’re props. You’re not supposed to let your kids actually PLAY in them.
If you watch to the end of this piece, the reporter, David Charns, says that the little girl and her brother have just gone BACK to the park, even as he’s filing his report.
The little recidivists! Will they never learn? Â – L
Look at all that green play space! Unfortunately, it sounds like the village of neighbors she was counting on ran and hid once the cops showed up. I’m curious why didn’t the nosy neighbors come out to talk to the cop? There are always nosy neighbors.
Busybodies … leave this little girl and her mother alone. Yes, there can be predators at playgrounds… but the little girl had other known adults around to whom she could reach to if she were in fear of being harmed in any way.
We are raising a generation of kids who will never stand on their own two feet and be responsible in life. This is really the nanny state. Judges are returning babies to homes with crack and coke addicts for moms and dads. Social workers tell of babies burned with cigarette butts but liberal judges send them back to their parents. That is real “child endangerment” when the state gets involved.
According to Lenore’s list of laws, Maine has no law about left home alone or in a car. Should not be hard to fight and win. With no other laws to point to as guidelines, that state is going to have to prove that the kid was in danger.
Unfortunately, the Maine statute is fairly broad, and conviction is possible.
The relevant section is Maine Criminal Code, section 554:
Â§554. Endangering the welfare of a child
1. A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child if that person:
C. Otherwise recklessly endangers the health, safety or welfare of a child under 16 years of age by violating a duty of care or protection.
If you’re going to let your kids leave the house unattended, make sure they know their home address and phone number (duh) and, apparently this is now necessarily, that if the police want to take them anywhere, they should say “no, I want to go home, now”. and, if that doesn’t work, to ask “am I under arrest? am I free to go?”, and, if you are particularly oppositional, “I want a lawyer”.
“… [the police] department had all the necessary ‘resources and facilities’ for saving this kid.” Yeah, a squad car, some Twinkies and soda back at the station.
â€œThatâ€™s a long time for a 7 year old girl to be by herself any place, let alone a park.â€
So the policing is so bad, or focused on “saving children” that crime is rampant in town and children who are unsupervised are in danger? That’s what I hear in the police chief. The possibility of something happening in town is so great because police resources are not being expended in prevention, or selectively to make a point as in here.
I am beginning to wonder what sort of people are making these calls, they apparently are everywhere. Are these the “what if” people who believe children aren’t capable? Helicopter parents who no longer can helicopter their children who are no longer around? Spiteful people? I’d be curious to have an interview with one of these people to understand what is going on.
My father used to spend summers in Maine when he was a boy. He and his friends would roam the woods, picking berries and camping out overnight and having a ripping good time. It was like the Stephen King movie”Stand by Me,’ but without the dead body.
Now it seems Maine kids can’t even be in a playground without somebody calling the cops.
Yes, there are predators in Maine (bears and big, mean weasels called fishers) but they’re not as scary as the new phenomenon of nosy neighbors.
This story makes me sad.
Thank you for your support. There was also a k9 dog present barking furiously scaring all of the children. The police told my daughter they would bring her home. They locked her in the back of a cruiser and took her to the police station. The park is literally in my backyard. They claimed they tried to call me from the park. That is false I’ve printed my phone records. And now Brooklyn is terrified of the police, afraid to go outside, and thinks she got me (her mom) in trouble. Thank you so much for your support, it means so much the number of people who have reached out to us.
Children playing, unsupervised? Like when we were kids? Oh no! (Insert sarcasm here). We learned to get along, cooperation, got fresh air, dirt in our fingernails, and skinned knees… ALL without the police & media interaction. It is not the police’s job to “protect” this child. Mom is already doing an awesome job of letting her be a kid. You’re doing a great job Nicole! I’m jealous that you have a playground that close to you!
“hauling her off to the police station where they â€œcared for herâ€ â€” like a refugee. The police chief is thankful her department had all the necessary â€œresources and facilitiesâ€ for saving this kid.”
I’m struck by the cognitive dissonance of a phrase like “care for her” stuck in among the Amtssprache like “resources and facilities”.
@ Nicole Jensen — I’m so sorry that this happened to you and your daughter. According to the schedule posted online, the next city council meeting in Westbrook will be on July 9. Perhaps you should go and bring Brooklyn and any of your friends and their kids who are outraged by what you went through. Speak out. Contact the media. Show your elected representatives that you’re not going to meekly submit to their tyranny. Good luck.
There’s house right next to our local park, with a door in the fence between them so that whoever lives there could go right from their yard to the park. Unfortunately, I don’t think any kids live there right now. If that was our house, our kids would be there ALL THE TIME. I don’t think they’d ever bother staying in the yard.
I Don’t Want to Live On this Planet Anymore ‘
This is completely unacceptable. 2nd graders are supposed to play at the park, walk to school, go to their friends’ houses, etc. It is a normal, expected, ordinary part of growing up. It is not a crime.
I would go so far as to say that being able to play at the local park without one’s mom & dad is an important developmental milestone. Denying or unreasonably delaying the chance for a child to play at the park is akin to denying or delaying the opportunity for a child to learn arithmetic. The Westbrook PD should be ashamed of itself. Unacceptable.
The policewoman/fearmonger probably thought the girl would do dangerous things like this:
I honesty cannot believe this. We are a close community that live In the vicinity of the park. We all know each other, help each other out, all pitch in to make it a safe environment. How can this officer say she definitely shouldn’t be at a park? Its a public place for children to gather and play. That’s one of the reasons we moved here. I’m Brooklynn stepdad by the way. She is vwey mature and has older brothers always with her. And the K9 what’s with that. Intimidate poor kids. I wish I was there with my camera.. I am appalled. WE LIVE 30 FT FROM THE PARK.!!. But know let’s scare the poor little girl and charge the mother for letting her daughter play on a hot day… I’m appalled. This WILL NOT FLY
So, according to Nicole, the police lied to the girl – said they would take her home, but instead took her to the police station. (and her house was close-by) Then the police apparently lied again about phoning the mother. And we should trust them?
The “irrational thing” about the police mindset – and the mindset of many fearmongers – is that they play dumb about stats that prove children are more likely to be harmed or abducted by family members or relatives — not strangers in a park. What does this tell us about the police departments ability to assess risk?
We have two small greenspace parks in LIncoln, NE (Breta Park and Hazel Abel) that both used to be backyards for the well heeled in the early 1900s and my kids 12, 11, and 6 go there all the time, sometimes with my nephews (8, 5).One of the parks is a block away and visible to me, the other is a few blocks away. Gods forbid if I didn’t let them go ever, they would whine and beg incessantly until I let them and it would drive me nuts. I’m not holding Lincoln up as a paragon of free-range thought, my wife and I were on a CPS list for a few months when my daughter was 3 and was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of our house and was picked up by a ‘well meaning’ neighbor, but she was pretty extreme. For the most part Lincoln isn’t bad and has no local ordinances or State laws regarding leaving a child unattended unless there is obviously harm or a direct threat. Thus kids do still play here, and babysit and whatnot, though still not to the level that ‘we’ did when we were kids (child of the early 80s)
We have child predators – is there such a thing as parent predators?
addendum- I post to show that there is hope, and still places that you can live, that arent completely rabid about this issue and hauling your kids in for no reason.
It is about time that the families that are targeted this way bring lawsuit against the Police Department and the neighbors of interfering with there parental rights. I understand there are really issues with child abuse in this country but we have overcorrected. Why are we wasting pubic resources on witch hunts when million of kids are suffering form realchild abuse every day!
From https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics – “The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations â€“ losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect. ”
I bet it is because it is way easier to go after parents who let they kids wander around and play in parks then it is to go after the real abusers!
So, are kids allowed to refuse to get in the squad car? Can they say, “Am I under arrest or am I free to go?” or does that somehow not apply to kids? I’m wondering for practical reasons. My son is not yet old enough to be out on his own, but when he is, will that be the thing to teach him?
the news reporter framed the plain clothes police chief with a pistol showing in the shot…this place seems pretty aggressive. #fear
What are the odds that those who call 911 have NO kids. It would be quite interesting to find out.
Actually, James Pollock is right. In today’s climate, the critical thing to teach your child to say when detained by police without cause is, “Am I under arrest? Am I free to go?” and to persistently say this and nothing further, because THAT is already established by SCOTUS precedent, and being an “unsupervised” child is going to have a tough time trumping that, come to court.
Was the officer who took her in plain clothes? If so, how could the child know for sure that she was going with an officer? I teach my kids to run the other way, bite, kick sensitive parts, poke eyes out and scream if anyone other than police ever tries to take them away forcibly.
Here’s my vision of the standard for police responding to children alone.
1) Observe and if activity seems normal and child seems content, then move on.
2) If child seems upset, lost, very young, or the activity unusually hazardous, then check in with the child and show ID. Find out if very young child has a buddy. Find out if child understands their surroundings and how to get home. Offer basic assistance, correction or warnings, then move on.
3) If child requires more than basic assistance, is hurt or too young to be without a buddy, or in a hazardous area or trespassing, then attempt to contact parents without leaving the location where their parents probably expect them to be. Do not apprehend children and put them in police cars.
4) Removing a child from the location is a last resort. Charging parents is a last resort. Treat normal childhood freedom and diverse “reasonable risk” parenting differently from true abuse and neglect.
How would you modify this procedure? Maybe we can put something forward to our local police departments.
I wish I was less fascinated with the idea of a kid refusing to get in the cop car without being under arrest. We don’t want kids to think that ANY first responder is a threat, BUT if they’re going to haul them down to the station instead of taking them home, well, that question is completely valid. These kids ARE being detained. It would be nice to have the police say “yes, we’re detaining you,” so at least they’re honest about it.
Acording to an article posted yesterday by Maria Guido “A Massachusetts court ruled yesterday that parents cannot be held criminally liable for for the use of “reasonable” force in disciplining their children. The ruling went on to say that spanking ‘remains firmly woven into our nation’s social fabric.'”
Ok, so I’m competent as a parent to determine if hitting my kid is ok, but not playing in the park? Both might be dangerous, that hardly matters – the point that I see is a rather arbitrary allowance for individual discretion as to appropriate parenting.
Maybe we should start to cite that case – clearly we should be able to use “reason,” to parent our child.
I’m glad to see this mom following the Meitiv model – go public, enlist the media, and you will win.
Dan: “Iâ€™m glad to see this mom following the Meitiv model â€“ go public, enlist the media, and you will win.” I sure hope they do.
But personally, I doubt I’d be brave enough to do as she and the Meitivs have: does anybody doubt that the police and/or CPS will dig up any bit of dirt they can on these parents and use it ruthlessly against them? You’d have to be darn sure your entire family is squeaky-clean in every possible way, which is tough when even the smallest deviation from mainstream parenting consensus counts as “dirt” these days.
Dear police force of Westbrook, Maine: If the local playground is so dangerous, why aren’t you filling it full of cops all day, every day? If there is a predator who snatches strange children haunting the park, why haven’t you sent in undercover people with camera phones to get a good look at the person and find them? How many stranger abductions have there been in Westerbrook in the past month?…Year?…Decade? Do you even know?
Or are you wasting time and frightening a little girl and her mother because of your own irrational fear of what might happen?
It seems, Lenore, that the National Association of Parents could use all its resources representing parents who urge (or allow) their children to walk, play, or just be outside without hovering nearby. It’s not the callers we fault, but the response by law enforcement and, too often, also by CPS. It really is important for one of our cases to get to a judge who enters an injunction against such responses and cautions law enforcement that it may override a parent’s decision only if the child is harmed, in distressed or in imminent danger of actual and not imagined or exaggerated harm. Parents, you are free to disagree with this parent or the Meitivs or the parents whose 11 year old was in their own backyard playing basketball and not to permit your children to do as these children were doing, based on your assessment of the situation. That is your freedom to choose, to decide for your own child/children. Help us protect this right to decide (so long as the child is not harmed, in distress or in imminent danger of harm). https://www.parentsusa.org
I loved the ending of the news report. The child did it again right in front of the camera! She walked past them to play in the park unsupervised. Kudos for standing up to them mom!
“â€œâ€¦ [the police] department had all the necessary â€˜resources and facilitiesâ€™ for saving this kid.â€ Yeah, a squad car, some Twinkies and soda back at the station.”
Yes, I shudder to think what would’ve happened if the poor kid had been so busy playing she would have gotten exercise instead of some sugary snacks and yet another ride in the back of a car. The horror!
I wonder what would have happened if young Brooklyn had gotten scared and run back to her backyard. Would the cops have followed her??
(Off-topic: Who knew Breukelen would ever be inspiring enough to name kids after 😛
Have you ever even been to Westbrook, Maine? The park that you have used in your picture is definitely NOT the park in Westbrook. Mommy was very carefu to say the park is “right over there” but there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that “mommy” could actually see her. You would be hard pressed to see the playground as it is in the middle of the park and there are lots of trees. It’s also along the banks of a very enticing river.The child was alone for over an hour. Notice mommy didn’t say if anyone was with the little girl or what friends knew where she was. I’m all for raising independent children, but for God’s sake she’s seven years old…think before you support this woman!
@Jane, cite your source please?
Jane, you bring up an interesting issue here. I guess I would take this mom’s side because even though I can think of at least 12 scary things that might happen to a 7-year-old playing at a park where her mom can’t quite see her, I don’t think that is any reason to get in the way of this mother encouraging her kid to play at the park. The scary things I can think of are not imminent dangers, they’re just “what if” thoughts, and those are not reasons to change anyone’s course.
Now if this mom had been intentionally feeding her child floor wax and taking her to the doctor all the time to get attention, I wouldn’t side with her. If she had been denying her child adequate food I wouldn’t side with her. If the child had cigarette burns on her arm, or was being sexually abused by mom’s alcoholic boyfriend and mom had been denying it, then I wouldn’t take mom’s side.
My “what if” thoughts have nothing to do with real, imminent dangers to a child’s health. When I see imminent danger, I act. How on earth could the fact that mom can’t actually see her kid playing at the park call anyone to action to claim she was negligent? Negligence has to do with imminent harm, not “what ifs.”
P.S. We lived one house away from a park for a few years. Our youngest was 6 at the time. Our rule was she could go there with an older sibling, or go there by herself and stay if she saw that there was an adult with kids hanging around there. If the park was empty, and she was alone, she was to come home.
We weren’t concerned about predators. We were concerned she might fall from the monkey bars and we wouldn’t hear her screaming.
So there you go. We couldn’t see her over there, and she was 6. And she was there sometimes for more than an hour.
Clutch your pearls!
If you can show that you are aware of the dangers, and have properly assessed them, and more importantly that your child is aware of the dangers, and has been prepared sufficiently to deal with them appropriately, fine. The cops questioning should proceed along these lines:
“Are you lost?” (no). “Do your parents know where you are?” (yes) “Do you know what to do if…(some danger present in the immediate surroundings)” (yes) “Have fun!”
If you haven’t assessed (or dismiss out-of-hand) the dangers, or if your child seems unprepared, I’m less inclined to leap to your defense.
@jane I had a look on Google images satellite and there is a photo of the playground in Riverbank Park, Westbrook Maine – and you can see houses in eyeline of the playground in the photo background. So doesn’t seem implausible. Maybe Lenore you could post that photo?
@jane I’m not “siding with” this mom in this case. I’m siding against the specific actions of the Westbrook PD in this situation. Nicole Jensen may be a great person, she may be a regular person, she may be flawed, she may be all of the above, I don’t know. I don’t care.
What I do know is that the Westbrook police chief went on TV defending the idea that a 2nd grader shouldn’t be at the local park without a parent or guardian for an hour or two. The Police Chief said that this is a crime that necessitates arresting the mother, charging her with neglect (or something similar), and referring the case to Child Services. Ultimately, the police chief sent a message, on local TV, to the effect of, “Don’t let your 2nd grader go to the park without a guardian, even if it is right next door, or else you will be arrested and your family will be put through turmoil”. I have a big problem with that. You should too, Jane.
What are the child safety seat laws in Maine? I’m Virginia it is illegal to transport a child who is not 8 years old (and a certain weight and height) without a booster seat. If Maine has a similar law, I would sue the heck out of the police force for child endangerment. (Squad cars tend not to come with boosters.)
Tell the police chief why you think her actions were a bit misguided and over the top. firstname.lastname@example.org
Has anyone ever looked nicole jensen up on google? She has gotten in trouble countless times for theft, violating bail, and various other things. Obviously she isn’t a very responsible person. I’m sure this isn’t the first time something has been brought to her attention about her kids. And someone who has gotten in trouble that many times obviously isn’t going to like police so of course she is going to have something rude to say about them.
“What are the child safety seat laws in Maine? Iâ€™m Virginia it is illegal to transport a child who is not 8 years old (and a certain weight and height) without a booster seat. If Maine has a similar law, I would sue the heck out of the police force for child endangerment. (Squad cars tend not to come with boosters.)”
It’s extremely likely that the statute excludes law enforcement, either explicitly or by case law. In any case, you can’t sue for “child endangerment”.
“What I do know is that the Westbrook police chief went on TV defending the idea that a 2nd grader shouldnâ€™t be at the local park without a parent or guardian for an hour or two. The Police Chief said that this is a crime that necessitates arresting the mother, charging her with neglect (or something similar), and referring the case to Child Services. Ultimately, the police chief sent a message, on local TV, to the effect of, â€œDonâ€™t let your 2nd grader go to the park without a guardian, even if it is right next door, or else you will be arrested and your family will be put through turmoilâ€. I have a big problem with that. You should too, Jane.”
I’d leave myself an out by suggesting that it’s possible there is more information to this story, that I don’t have, that might justify this. I don’t think so (I suspect is has far more to do with being confrontational to police, which police tend to consider a crime even though it’s not.)
But it’s possible.
Time to wait and see.
The more I look into Nicole Jensen the more I wonder why she even has custody of her kids. May 22 2015 charged with Assault, Criminal threatening and criminal restraint. Go look at the Westbrook Police department facebook page. Her name and picture are on there. I don’t know this lady and happy that I don’t. When it comes to kids it pisses me off that people are on her side with out checking into what kind of person she is. There is obviously more to the story then we know.
She is also Admin of a group called 765 movement on facebook. An anti government cop hating group.
“She is also Admin of a group called 765 movement on facebook. An anti government cop hating group.”
Being part of, or even leading, an anti-government cop-hating group, is not sufficient reason to lose your kids.
I know but it just adds fuel to the fire
Lenore you are a great writer and I love everything I have read from you. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite but I think “So from now on, letâ€™s hope Nicole Jensen has learned her lesson: Parks arenâ€™t for kids! Theyâ€™re for real estate values. Theyâ€™re props. Youâ€™re not supposed to let your kids actually PLAY in them.” is the funniest and most biting thing you have ever written.
I also love the ah…appropriately empty caption.
The mom could be barbecuing puppies for breakfast and sending death threats to everybody on Twitter, but letting somebody who’s old enough to walk a mile to school by herself* play in a public space designated for her use is still not a crime.
*I did. Woods on one side, highway on the other. No crossing guards at any of the intersections except the one right in front of the school. Still here.
To those of you who are disparaging Nicole’s character, the report indicates that her daughter was brought to the station because she was at the park alone. Perhaps there is more to the story and the neighbors are trying to find some way to get the child some help. But, this reporter is fueling the paranoia by alleging that being in the park by herself is somehow neglectful parenting. It is true that we do not know more than what is reported but even if the mother is known to the police, her daughter should not be brought to the station without due cause.
@Kelly & James
The idea that the police may be targeting this family for their political views is very disturbing.
Heather – “liberal” judges? Really?
I just don’t get the motivation of the person who called 911. I thought that number was for emergencies
Assault, Criminal threatening and criminal restraint
Charges as those listed above really don’t mean anything. It can be the most innocuous thing that brings charges as these. It was similar charges brought against an attorney IN A Courthouse for telling a defendant he didn’t have to speak to the police who were asking questions. She was arrested and hauled off. There are too many times vague laws are used more to enforce their own “personality” upon an individual than any true mens rea by that individual. There is ample evidence that the public should be wary of many in law enforcement. We have a system where everything is at the discretion of the police, and it is becoming more and more evident that their trustworthiness is coming into question. Pages upon pages could be filled in this regard.
To be specific in the example of assault. All one has to do is put their hand on an officer and can be charged with all three charges. There are videos showing exactly such cases, even to the point where an officer will try to move in such a way to create a case where the person touches the officer. I, too, used to be one who would give all deference to the police. There is just too much evidence Not to be suspicious of the powers that be.
There is another almost humorous case, if it weren’t so outrageous. The setting is IN a courtroom. The lawyer is speaking to the judge about her client. One of the officers non-nonchalantly walks over to the attorney’s desk and begins to RIFLE through her papers and finds one of interest. He calls two other officers over to also look at the papers. From what I gather they were looking for some evidence of some sort. The judge didn’t seem to take it too serious. This was All on court video. I ask,is this the type of justice system we should be proud of. I’ve become quite disillusioned with the system in general.
What on earth do past charges, or choice of Facebook groups, have to do with sending your kid to the park? 765 is a close group, but its description says its against tyranny and in favor of freedom, which sound to me like great things. It is not required that one love big government in order to be a parent, or send their kid to a park.
But sure, let’s attack the character of the victim here rather than paying attention to what was done.
I like James’ solution, personally.
Thank you every one of you, so much for your support. I cannot put into words what it means to me and brooklynn to see this article and the responses. Again thank you all this lifted my spirits!
Also I was not convicted of any of the charges in may. It was a misunderstanding. I am an administrator of an educational movement that spreads awareness to the public on issues such as police brutality, food labeling, animal testing, safety in schools… We help communities in need, individuals in need, we have a program to help bring gardens to urban areas… It is a wonderful group and I’m proud to be a part of it. However, what in the name of God does that have to do with my daughter playing at the park? The charges in may were also brought on by me being targeted by law enforcement for my political beliefs and my “syatus” as an activist. Thank you for your support and for those who are clearly expressing ignorance we can only hope to help them become more informed. Again thank you for the lovely article.
What went wrong? A 7-Year-old should do a lot of stuff on her own…including playing at a park for an hour…but teach her not to talk to strangers…even if they say they are police officers. and she should never get into a car! THAT went wrong! She should scream and involve the persons around she knows. Never get into a car of a person you donÂ´t know. That should be the shocking news…Make her strong by letting her do things of her own! And show her how she should react if a stranger wants to talk to her. A polite NOOO, and if he doesnÂ´t leave. Scream and get away or get the people involved you know.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I don’t give a rat’s rear if this mother is cooking meth in her garage. Taking her daughter into custody for playing in the park unsupervised is the issue, and it is wrong. You want to bust her for other crap that is one thing, but to say you cannot back her on this issue is BS.
@ Kelly & others: Perhaps there is a good reason the neighbors were worried about this child, but the article does not say and we could let our imaginations go wild & engage in unfounded speculation about a lot of things the article doesn’t mention. Hey, maybe the snitching neighbor & the police officer were both abused & neglected as children themselves and harbor twisted revenge fantasies against all mothers. I mean, if we’re going to speculate without any basis, we might just as well go all out, eh?
But seriously, lost in all of this – regardless of whether there was legitimate reason for concern for this child’s welfare or not – is that government officials in this town, whether they realize it or not, are publicly admitting that they have been so derelict and/or incompetent at effectively policing the community they are being paid by the taxpayers to protect that their neighborhoods are too dangerous now for children to play safely in the parks formerly dedicated for that purpose.
Law enforcement, including Police Chief Janine Roberts & their elected supervisors in city administration have essentially given up on fulfilling their professional obligations, in other words. Un-policed criminals are free to roam their streets & un-policed predators now lurk behind every bush therefore playgrounds are not to be used by children anymore.
Not the other way around, mind you. It’s the potential young victims who have lost the right to use public green spaces, not the potential perps, and the utterly useless cops there are admitting that the families footing the bill for their paychecks should all just cower in fear behind their doors now because they, the public servants being paid to protect them, have been irremediably negligent in their professional duties.
Gee, maybe if Roberts & her force spent more time going after all these supposedly marauding predators waiting to pounce on kids than berating non-hovering parents, other people in their community wouldn’t freak out at the sight of local kids getting a healthy dose of daily exercise at their “just for show” playgrounds?
Otherwise, everybody there currently being paid to protect the community needs to be fired for not reading their freaking job descriptions.
OMG! Playing in the park alone! On nice summer days when school was out and I was seven years old I would play in the park down the street alone, other times with friends, all day long. Mom would wave/call me in for lunch and I knew when the sun began to set it was time to go home. There was nothing strange about it, nothing to fear, nothing out of the ordinary..except that July day in 69 when mom called me in at a odd time, and that was so I could view the Apollo 11 moon landing..then back to the park it was till the sun began to set. Police would even come to a four way stop alongside the park as us kids waved and said hi to Mister police man, they smiled,waved and went on their way. Now police are being called because the kid(s) are in the park and haul them off to police stations! This is unreal!
“I donâ€™t give a ratâ€™s rear if this mother is cooking meth in her garage.”
Why wouldn’t they just walk the kid back to her own house? This is ridiculous!
@leili – well said! Our children have lost their rights, their prison might be an apartment or house with cable TV and a video game console…
@ Abigail: It’s bizarre isn’t it?
The police force there has essentially admitted to the world that it has failed to ensure a safe environment for children in their community.
And so going forward, rather than protecting the kids from predators by restricting the freedom of criminals as they have been entrusted to do, they will now protect predators from any temptation kids might pose to them by radically restricting the freedom of the community’s children instead.
It’s much easier for law enforcement to design a policy that goes after the law abiding potential victims instead of the criminally inclined victimizers, in other words.
And they’re getting paid good money by the people of their community to announce they are that ineffectual at their jobs and will now be taking the easier way out for themselves at the expense of the quality of life for that community’s children.
Just a gobsmacking admission of cavalier ineptitude and lack of professional diligence by the police there, it really is.
I hope this mom stands strong – she has done absolutely nothing wrong in this case. Please keep us informed.
@James, of course you do. Because this might have been one thread that you and Warren didn’t derail with your arguing, and you couldn’t have that!
“@James, of course you do. Because this might have been one thread that you and Warren didnâ€™t derail ”
Picking fights seems like an odd way to stay on-topic, but at least you got in that zinger.
Try doing a little Google search on this chick. She is a druggy, has an arrest record a mile long and just got arrested again a couple weeks back for fighting outside her home. Clearly a classy lady! The town of westbrook also has a large number or sex offenders and pedophiles living there.
The character and/or rap sheet of this woman shouldn’t matter at all; I don’t understand why people keep bringing it up.
@sb said ” The town of [W]estbrook also has a large number or sex offenders and pedophiles living there.”
So, rather than rectify their own failure to ensure community safety by diligently removing predators from their streets, Westbrook’s PD will now accommodate their own failure by forcibly removing children from the streets.
You may not realize it, SB, but you make everyone else’s point by trying to blame the mother for law enforcement’s policy here.
Because it’s self-evident that it’s far easier & less time-consuming to bully a powerless mom (especially one with a rap sheet & a bit of a local reputation for not being “classy” as you suggest) and her anonymous kids into de facto house arrest in order to keep those pesky crime statistics down than it is to bully the hard-nosed predatory criminals off of local playgrounds & into jail, isn’t it?
If you’re a member of Westbrook PD, you can get your job done no probs and still have time to stop off for donuts before that fourth union-mandated station break of the day & punching out, amirite?
And if the kids in Westbrook are now growing up more like prisoners than the criminals themselves because the police paid to promote safety there have decided it’s easier to protect playground predators from temptation by local kids than to protect local kids from playground predators, well, the ol’ pension fund is still ticking up and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
@librarian: Her reputed character is only relevant in that it unfortunately (and irrationally) seems to make it more acceptable to others there that their police force has decided to make this woman’s kids prisoners rather than the criminals who might prey upon them.
Cops would never take the easy way out with their obligation to ensure the safety of those playgrounds by essentially putting a local family under house arrest if that local family were well-off, socially prominent and hadn’t had any brushes with the law.
Police Chief Janine Roberts would never hear the end of it and demands would be made that the cops start doing what they’re being paid to do & make those parks free of predators rather than throw up their hands & sweep them free of kids instead.
But if they can socially marginalize this particular mom because of her alleged less-than-upstanding history, everyone else in that community is more likely to turn a deaf ear to what amounts to a rather amazing admission that their local PD & criminal courts haven’t the competency to effectively police those playgrounds, they have now ceded control of them entirely & have given the predators there what amounts to exclusive use of those facilities rather than the local kids whom those facilities were originally dedicated to serve.
every time I read a story like this I wonder why is it so hard to talk the kid before you talk to 911.
what horrible thing to find kid having fun at park. if we’re going keep doing this we might as well make a country wide law kids can’t be outside without parents there. I know we don’t want the kids stolen but as Lenore has pointed out more than once boogeymen are not on every corner. so why do we keep refusing to open our ears to listen to the kids? we can’t help if we don’t have all the info. we can think we are helping but without all the facts we can do more harm than good. not that cps would care.
“@librarian: Her reputed character is only relevant in that it unfortunately (and irrationally) seems to make it more acceptable to others there that their police force has decided to make this womanâ€™s kids prisoners rather than the criminals who might prey upon them.”
Well, her character would be relevant to an assessment of whether or not she is accurately presenting the facts of the incident(s). There’s the old saying that there’s three sides to every story, my side, your side, and the truth. We, as outsiders, should judge the situation on the truth, the actual facts. The more you know about someone, the more accurately you can estimate how far the truth is from what someone says it is. We associate some traits with the tendency to be truthful, and some traits with a tendency to be less truthful. The fact that a person has a long history of lying doesn’t mean that what they say now isn’t true, and vice versa, but we play the odds, and since the human brain is an excellent pattern-matching computer, we look for patterns we recognize all the time. This is why two people can look at the exact thing and draw two different conclusions… they see patterns that match something in their prior experience, and fill in details to complete the pattern. Since different people have different experiences, the patterns they see are sometimes the same or similar, but sometimes very different.
As an example, my pattern-matching suggests to me that part of the reason you get the results you get from interacting with the police is based on how you interact with them… the more confrontational you are, the less likely they are to use their discretion of letting you off with a warning, and the more likely you are to get a citation, detention, or arrest. Of course, another factor in play is how you match up in the police officer’s pattern-matching… do you present as “criminal” or as “upstanding citizen”.
What do you what to bet this Westbrook police chief played in the park unsupervised when she was a kid.
That pattern-matching seems accurate. Of course, it’s precisely the same pattern you’re likely to find in dealing with a mugger.
In any case, the knock-down line in this case is that quote from the police chief about an hour being an awful long time to be anywhere “let alone a park.”
So a child is playing in the park peacefully, and a ‘concerned’ neighbor decided it was better to call an emergency line summoning in men with guns and a whole arsenal of weapons in their belt rather than just asking the girl if she was okay and letting her know if she needed anything to just knock?
How did that phone call go with 9-1-1?
Disparch: “Hello this is 911, what is your emergency?”
‘Concerned neighbor: “there is a child playing at the park.”
Dispatch: “Is she lost?”
Concerned Neighbor: “No, she lives across the street”
Dispatch: “is she hurt or in distress?”
Concerned Neighbor: “No, it looks like she is having fun.”
Dispatch:”what exactly is it that she is doing at the park?”
Concerned Neighbor: “She is running, jumping, swinging on the swings and riding her bike.”
Dispatch:”Sounds dangerous, it is good you called the emergency line. Do not approach her. We are sending police now and advising SWAT of a potential situation. Keep your doors locked and stay on the line.”
“That pattern-matching seems accurate. Of course, itâ€™s precisely the same pattern youâ€™re likely to find in dealing with a mugger.”
We use pattern-matching to avoid muggers. Or, at least, people who seem to match the pattern of “mugger”.
To come back to topic, part of the challenge of raising kids in a “free range” environment is making sure that their pattern-matching is accurate. When we teach them that “stranger” matches the pattern “danger”, we rob them of all the beneficial interactions they could have had with strangers, had we taught them a more accurate pattern for “danger”. A stranger who wants to separate you from people and places you know should match “danger”. The fact that some pedophile once used a dog in a park to draw children shouldn’t mean that “person with dog in park” matches pattern “pedophile”… but that’s what some people are teaching their kids.
“In any case, the knock-down line in this case is that quote from the police chief about an hour being an awful long time to be anywhere â€œlet alone a park.â€
It wouldn’t be the first time somebody made a mistake, did something stupid, and, rather than admit they (or their subordinates) did something stupid, the person higher-up decided to double down and brazen it out.
I can give you a much more significant case.
A person was accused of a crime. They were technically guilty of it, but prosecution of this offender for this crime didn’t seem to serve the public interest, so the grand jury returned “no bill”… a refusal to indict. This is rare… the common statement is that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and that probably explains what happened next.
The prosecutor proceeded to act as if the defendant was indicted. The crime carried a substantial mandatory minimum sentence, so the defense attorney advised the defendant to take a plea offer. (rather than face the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime he wasn’t indicted for.) The judge accepted his plea, and gave him a jail sentence. When the local newspaper covered the fact that he was being released after finishing his sentence, one of the grand jurors noticed and called in to ask why he was in jail, when the grand jury declined to indict him. Oops.
So the public defender had to call and tell him that he had a strong malpractice claim against her. The prosecutor, on the other hand, didn’t want to admit fault, and spent the rest of the time until the statute of limitations ran investigating him, hoping to find a charge they could convict him on, to avoid having to pay out for wrongful imprisonment.
Yes, the prosecution’s response to having unlawfully put this man in jail was to continually subject his life to scrutiny rather than apologize and pay up.
God this pisses me off! These children are not being targeted by predators. They aren’t going to be kidnapped (except, apparently, by the cops.) Crime is down, only a fraction of child abductions are done by strangers, and this woman who called the cops needs to GET OFF THE INTERNET. The biggest problem with the helicopter parents/busybody neighbors is that they are spending hours online. Reading about kidnappings. Reading about sex offenders (even when the offense is urinating on the side of the road) and freaking out. Now, the abduction of a child 546 miles away by a non-custodial parent suddenly ‘hits too close to home’ and no child should leave the house. Now, the sex offender on the local news, who had nothing to do with the abuse of a child, might suddenly appear at the playground (you never know!) Now every national news story, regardless of the distance to the city you live in, has some relation to your life and the lives of the snowflakes that live on your block, and it’s time to save the children! OMG this stuff pisses me off.
How did the judge accept the plea? How did the public defender advise a plea without knowing if there was an indictment? Sounds like everyone here was wrong except the guy who served time.
“How did the judge accept the plea?”
The judges focus is on determining if the plea is voluntary, and that the defendant knows the consequences of a guilty plea.
“How did the public defender advise a plea without knowing if there was an indictment?”
Malpractice. Indictments are so automatic that nobody bothered to check to see what the grand jury actually returned.
“Sounds like everyone here was wrong except the guy who served time.”
I don’t think “everyone” is accurate… the grand jury, for example, took its duty seriously and determined that it was not in the public interest to pursue criminal charges. I’m not sure whether to fault the judge or the clerk of the court for scheduling the plea deal without an indictment (I’m not sure prosecutors and defense attorneys can start negotiating a plea deal before the grand jury completes its deliberations. This happened a while back, in the less-populated end of the state, so I just have hazy memories of news coverage, which doesn’t always get details of legal proceedings correct.
But, yeah, there’s plenty of blame to spread around between the prosecutor and the defense attorney for the initial mistake, but the prosecutor’s office’s decision on how to handle the aftermath is all on them.
I would find out who the stupid neighbor was and have a come to Jesus meeting. I would then sue the cop for being stupid.
This is absolutely ridiculous. We are currently living a nightmare where my husbands daughter had been left home alone from young age of 6 years old in a neighborhood where there were drugs, murders and gang members. Child Protective Services and the police were called and the Courts found “no proponderance of evidence,” and offered the mother parenting classes. Just 3 years prior the mother lost custody of our daughter due to showing up in court high on marijuana during a custody battle. Just this last August she was arrested again for driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and driving while license suspended – – this was only 5 monts after our daughter took drug paraphanalia to school to show her friends that her mother needed help. After yet another court appearance, the courts found “no proponderance of evidence” and allowed our now 11 year old daughter to stay in the home (which is condemned). My husband and I have never been arrested, have never used drugs and have a beautiful home in a community that is safe. The courts DO NOTHING to help the children who are the ultimate victims. I think the police, courts, and child protective services need to focus on the children who are the real victims and not this utter nonsence. I am absolutely appalled by this. We have been screaming at the roof tops for help and we get nothing – – yet this poor child was tormented by being removed from a playground just feet away from her home. There is something seriously wrong with this system. Our situation entailed, police – – three Child Protective Services reports – – and custody being lost (only because her mother had 3 clean drops). Where is the justice in this? Where are the rights of the other parent? Why is this happening? This is absolutely horrifying.
Wouldn’t assuring that the defendant understands the consequences of a guilty plea include making sure that the defendant knows that, absent this guilty plea, they go home? It seems to me that a judge has an obligation before accepting a plea to know if the defendant is properly informed.
Anyway, I agree that the prosecutor’s behavior is outrageous, and the worst of the behavior here – but the defense attorney’s malpractice seems rather abhorrent also.
“Wouldnâ€™t assuring that the defendant understands the consequences of a guilty plea include making sure that the defendant knows that, absent this guilty plea, they go home?”
No, it doesn’t. Our system relies on the fact that defendant is advised by a lawyer.
Yes your lawyer is supposed to have informed you, and hopefully your lawyer is honest and a lot smarter than James.
“What do you what to bet this Westbrook police chief played in the park unsupervised when she was a kid.”
But Things Were Different Then ™
I pretty much agree with everything you write about. Kids need to play by themselves, get dirty, go on adventures and parents need to be protected and have the right to allow their kids to do that. I follow your posts and shake my head along with you. But I’m getting tired of the sarcasm. These are real concerns and I think there’s a better way to get your point across. I find myself following less and less. Do you want a forum that can cause real change or do you want to alienate?
They did the right thing, I mean, child kidnappings by strangers are through the roof. Oh wait, they’re not and kids were more likely to get kidnapped 50 years ago.
“They did the right thing, I mean, child kidnappings by strangers are through the roof. Oh wait, theyâ€™re not and kids were more likely to get kidnapped 50 years ago.”
Kidnapping is the sensational danger, but not the only one.
Hello, all, I have tracked down some pertinent contact information for the Westbrook authorities, including that of the police chief who appears in the on-camera interview. I invite everyone to consider reaching out and expressing your opinions directly. I will be sending a letter today. Here is the postal/email contact info I found on the official Westbrook website:
Police Chief Janine Roberts:
Westbrook Police Department
Attn: Chief Janine Roberts
570 Main Street
Westbrook, ME 04092
Patrol Division, Captain Sean Lally: email@example.com
Office of the Mayor of Westbrook –
Mayor Colleen Hilton
2 York Street
Westbrook, ME 04092