Kid, 8, Skips Church to Play. Dad Arrested.

Readers — I guess what’s good about the Internet is that we hear about all these crazy stories, including fsfsinktbh
this one
, wherein a Blanchester, OH, boy, 8, was supposed to get on the bus to church, but played hooky instead and was later found at the devil’s favorite stomping ground, the local Family Dollar. (I, too, cannot stay on the straight and narrow when seduced by $1 sponges, socks and hair doodads.)

“Police were called,” says the story, and the boy, Justin Williamson, ostensibly claimed he didn’t know where he lived. Which sounds like an 8-year-old trying to forestall the inevitable. Anyway, the cops found out his address and he was hauled home.

That seems like overkill. Overkillingly more, the dad was then arrested in front of his other (bawling) kids and now must appear in court on July 15. Because only truly, criminally bad parents EVER have kids who’d skip a religious service.

So, my point: It is good that these stories of petty minds and police badgering get out to the world, as a way of perhaps, somehow, keeping power in check. But I don’t want you to now fear your own 8-year-old walking to the Dollar Store, or playing in the nabe. These stories are rare and outrageous enough that they MAKE it to the news. I report them here to remind us that there is a power structure we MUST FIGHT that can take away our rights as parents, kids and citizens. But not that any time an 8-year-old goes to buy a $1 squirt gun, he’s going to get his parents arrested. (Unless, of course, he brings that squirt gun to school.) – L.

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140 Responses to Kid, 8, Skips Church to Play. Dad Arrested.

  1. Andy June 27, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    I might be missing something, but what was the arrest for? It seem to be the default action after any encounter with cops in all recent news.

    At minimum, it sounds like an expensive policy.

  2. MichaelF June 27, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Too bad the small-gov’t types aren’t fighting this sort of abuse of power.

    The amount of times I skipped CCD…hoo boy!!

  3. SKL June 27, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    My parents would have lived in jail, considering the way my brother used to ramble all over the township when he was 7, all day long.

    In those days we would not have considered a child that old to be “missing” just because we didn’t know his exact whereabouts. More like “out playing somewhere.”

    And they say “half a mile” like that is a long distance. Seriously?

  4. K June 27, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    The way the laws, social workers, and judges operate is basically if anything bad happens it’s the parent’s fault, even if the child was not under the parent’s supervision at the time (i.e. was at school etc.) or is old enough to have some unsupervised time. Where I live CPS does get around for various reasons. This is a predominantly white town with the people living predominantly in houses as opposed to trailers or city provided “affordable housing”. It isn’t wealthy, but isn’t a ghetto either. One of my friends had a neigbor call animal control and that led to a CPS encounter, another had someone else call and say there was no food in the house when in fact it just wasn’t “eat right now food”. It had to be cooked. A third had a baby taken right after birth due to a disagreement with a hospital. Someone else had a neighbor that had rats in their yard and someone called CPS about the rats. The friend couldn’t attack the nest because it wasnd’t on their property and could only treat the rats in a minimal way. Still CPS came around for what seemed like forever and interviewed all their friends for upwards of half an hour (i.e. an invasive interview). There are several other local incidents and lots that I have read about. That someone happens to be in a circle where CPS hasn’t gotten to yet doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be right there if there is some involvement with police or the parent is disattisfied with hospital services for some reason. Sometimes there is involvement if a school wants a child medicated for ADD and the parent doesn’t want to. and the National Association of Parents are both organizations that are trying to preserve parents rights. I think it would be great if some or better yet all of you checked those organizations out.

  5. Vmom June 27, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I used to skip Sunday school and go over to the liquor store and read magazines and eat beef jerkey!

  6. Warren June 27, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    The story also says he lost his job after the story was in the papers.

    You know all those people saying that US citizens do not need to keep themselves armed to protect themselves against the gov’t……….well that isn’t looking like such an out of date idea.

  7. David DeLugas June 27, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    The Constitutional rights of parents to raise their children as they determine (so long as not causing actual harm) was infringed and violated in this case (as reported). An uprising to change laws and policies and to push back must be undertaken! The National Association of Parents, the affinity marketing & public policy voice for the married/unmarried mothers and fathers in the USA, from diapers to diplomas, which is a 501(c)(3) member association, provides the place where parents can collect and exert their collective strength in numbers and battle back! This is so wrong on so many levels. We need thousands, then hundreds of thousands and then millions of parents to gather together so that parents do not have to push back on their own. Please LIKE our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and visit our website to learn more and, perhaps, to join.

  8. Earth.W June 27, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    So, don’t go to Church and your parent/s are criminally punished for it. Hmm, Christian Taliban?

  9. Laura June 27, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    I almost hope there’s more to this story because it’s totally ridiculous as is.

  10. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    I agree with Laura. I hope there’s more to this. Because, otherwise, it appears to be a case of a parent being arrested because their child disobeyed them, which is completely insane.

  11. Donna June 27, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Wow, my parents would have spent my entire childhood in prison. I was a major wanderer when I was young. Used to drive my parents crazy.

    It does seem like there is slightly more to this story. One article I read said that the father couldn’t find the boy at 5:30. The church van came at 6:15 and he just assumed that the boy got on the van (based on what since he didn’t know where the boy was for the 45 minutes before then?). The boy was found in the store at 8.

    I don’t think this set of facts is something that should lead to a parenting being arrested – kids sneak off and it doesn’t require a missing person report – but it does appear that the arrest was due to the father not attempting to find his missing kid for 2.5 hours with nobody believing that he really thought that the kid was at church.

  12. Maggie June 27, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    That’s crazy! They kid slips away, on purpose, and it’s dad’s fault?

    The kid wasn’t harmed. A stern lecture (for the kid) is called for.

    That’s it.

  13. SOA June 27, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    What bothers me about this one so much is the father did not even give him permission to go alone to the Dollar Store. The kid was supposed to get on the church bus and did not on his own. In cases like this usually the police just bring the kid home, find out what happened and go about their day. I think they have some policy now that anytime police have to do anything someone is getting arrested. Which kinda takes out the whole serve part of “Protect and serve”.

    At 8 my mom frequently used to send me into stores alone while she waited out in the car to let me return the video to Blockbuster or rent a movie or pick out a toy or candy. The worst that ever happened was sometimes the clerks ignored me because I was so short they could not see me over the counter.

  14. C. S. P. Schofield June 27, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    The government swine responsible for this travesty needs to be found and the concept of minding his own goddamned business explained to him at length…preferably with an axe.

  15. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    The link you provided is dead…

  16. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Here is the actual local news article with complete information…

    An 8-year-old boy who was found alone in a store in Blanchester apparently walked a half-mile on a busy highway; and when police took the child home, the father said his son had been missing for about 2 1/2 hours, said Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.

    A clerk at the Family Dollar store on State Route 28 in Blanchester called police to the store about 8 p.m. Wednesday, but the child could not tell the officer where he lived, said police.

    Reinbolt said Ptl. James Beckelhymer spoke with a customer in the store who described the boy’s home on State Route 28.

    “Family Dollar sits on the same state route, but on the opposite side of the street, leading to the conclusion that the boy crossed the street to get to the store,” Reinbolt said.

    Following the investigation, the boy’s father, Jeffrey K. Williamson Jr., 31, of State Route 28, Blanchester, was arrested on charges of child endangering. He was incarcerated in the Clinton County Jail, pending an appearance in Clinton County Municipal Court.

    Williamson said the boy came up missing at around 5:30 p.m., but he wasn’t able to find him in the yard, Reinbolt said.

    “Williamson said that at around 6:15 p.m., a bus from the Woodville Baptist Church pulled up at the house and he therefore assumed the boy and his siblings had boarded the bus to go to church,” Reinbolt said. “Asked if he watched the children board the bus, Williamson said he had not.”

    Reinbolt said while the officer was at the Williamson home, the church bus brought all four of the boy’s siblings home.

    Williamson told Beckelhymer that the arrest was “ridiculous” because the Family Dollar is “only four blocks away” from the house, Reinbolt said.

    Rose Cooper can be reached at 937-382-2574 extension 216 or on Twitter @rosecooperWNJ.

  17. John Scanlan June 27, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    This is genuinely insane!!! I can’t even understand the legal issue involved. What did the father “do” that justified his arrest? This situation is so weird that I’m genuinely at a loss for words.

  18. Emily June 27, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    This is completely insane. Also, if the dad in the story was so concerned for his children’s spiritual upbringing, why didn’t he go to church with them?

  19. Backroads June 27, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    How many lives have to be ruined because of this overwhelming fear of “bad things might just happen”?

  20. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Based on what we see here it does sound insane! BUT, it leaves one to wonder what has yet to be announced. Following this situation might answer some of your questions.

    Particularly to me it seems odd to charge this father with child endangering because the OH law governing that (Ohio Revised Code » Title [29] XXIX CRIMES – PROCEDURE » Chapter 2919: OFFENSES AGAINST THE FAMILY) deals with physical abuse, sexual abuse, pornography, drugs, and alcohol. It is not relevant for child abandonment or supervision writ large, however, there is a single line that states “No person, who is the parent, guardian, custodian, person having custody or control, or person in loco parentis of a child under eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under twenty-one years of age, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.” Abandonment laws are directed at child support in OH. It does say that you have to protect children from physical abuse, sexual abuse, pornography, drugs, and alcohol though…

    You can look at what the father has been charged with here:

    It will be interesting to see how the police and DA make a case and what they point to in the code, also it will be interesting to follow this case and see what else is admitted as evidence.

  21. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    It is weird that the boy could not tell the cops where he lived, hes 8, and considering that he lived on the very street where they were standing it is double weird. He didn’t advocate for himself very well…

  22. Donna June 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm #


    The boy sneaked away from home and ditched church. I don’t think that (a) he really didn’t know where he lived or (b) he was trying to advocate for himself. I think he was trying to get out of trouble, or at least forestall the trouble he was going to get into when he got home and dad found out he took off. Kids don’t think about the larger consequences of dad being arrested due to him playing stupid.

  23. Warren June 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    You may well be fantastic at cut and paste, on the computer, but your understanding of children leaves a lot to be desired.
    “It is weird that the boy could not tell the cops where he lived, hes 8, and considering that he lived on the very street where they were standing it is double weird. He didn’t advocate for himself very well…”

    An 8 yr old that has ditched church, to go his own way, is approached by strangers and then a cop. The boy knows he is busted, knows he is in trouble. What do most 8 yr olds do in that situation………THEY LIE.

  24. Annanda June 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    When I was 8 my mom told me “you are old enough to choose if you want to go to church or not”. 🙂 Today I am a very spiritual person anyway. Let your kids free to choose if they want to go to the church or to play, when they are old enough. And let them free to play too. Why a kid alone on the bus to the church is ok but a kid alone at the dollar store is not?

  25. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    Oh…he was lying…I get it. He lied to the cops…oh…he didn’t want to go home…I get it now…right…

  26. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    @Annanada, well, while I agree that 8 is not too young to walk four blocks to a store, I do see the difference between being “alone” on a church bus and alone at a store. I’d allow my 4yo to ride in the supervised church van to a supervised church activity, but I would not allow her to walk to and hang out at the dollar store by herself.

    As to why the father wasn’t with the kids if he was so interested in their spiritual development, given the timing and the fact that they were picking up kids, it was probably a youth activity, not a church service. We have a few churches around us that have afterschool/evening programs for kids.

  27. everydayrose June 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Maybe the father didn’t care about going to church with his kids. My kids have gone through phases where they’ve attended church regularly but there’s no way on earth that you’d EVER drag me along. Their church going is 100% their business and I want nothing to do with it.

  28. Steve June 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Considering that the news report said, “Williamson told Beckelhymer that the arrest was “ridiculous” because the Family Dollar is “only four blocks away” from the house, Reinbolt said.”

    And … considering little Blanchester, Ohio, has a population of about 4,243 and many people probably know each other – this small town of BLANCHESTER, OHIO needs to be remembered and avoided, because what we learn from this story is that anyone might get arrested for anything. It’s not what you do that matters, it’s how the police can interpret it.

    I also suspect that the police in Blanchester, Ohio don’t have enough to keep them busy.

    Lenore, I’ve mentioned this before — incidents like this are the kinds of things that went on in Red China under Mao.

    Most of you who read this comment will think I’m being extreme.


    Son of the Revolution
    by Liang Heng

  29. Jenny Islander June 27, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    @Warren: Excuse me, how would the father having a gun on him enabled him to keep his job? Or kept him from arrest? Seriously?

  30. Papilio June 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    “(I, too, cannot stay on the straight and narrow when seduced by $1 sponges, socks and hair doodads.)”

    Just admit it Lenore: you skipped church all your life 😛

  31. K June 27, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I also think that by the time kids are 8 we should be working on trustworthyness and self-sufficiency. Now that this father has been arrested how old do you think the boy will be before the father trusts him to get on tthe school bus by himself? Kids can be reb ellious at 15 too.

    Another thought I had is that kids should have some consequences and in our society the parents and sometimes teachers, but more likely parents bear the consequences of children’s bad behavior. Kids are in some ways still infants at 18 because we have to hold their hand to get on the bus for church and/or school until what age? ??

    Though everyone is reasonably quiet about these issues, usually because of gag orders, there are other consequences to having kids being infants at 18. There is a generally declining birth rate. The recession and fact that women are more educated than they used to be have been blamed on that, but I would bet government interventions have played a role. The smaller number of infant adults won’t be able to maintain a super power. They can’t do anything because OMG, they might get hurt if they mow the lawn at the age of 12 or they might burn themselves on the stove at the age of 10. They certainly can’t manage a house when they are 18, much less do something fantastic that will help to maintain a super power. I know my generalization doesn’t apply to all 18 year-olds, but I’ve met some that I think are pretty lazy and lack motivation at that age. They expect things to be done for them as they have always had that luxury. They are the entitlement generation, not the generation that will produce something great themselves. Are parents to blame for this as everything else? I don’t think so. Certainly the outlook of authorities forcing parents to hold the hand of a child older than 8 to get on a bus doesn’t have anything to do with it.

  32. Warren June 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    It was a sarcastic shot at the police state that is festering in the US.

    You have an education system that suspends kids over hair colour, science fair experiments, ones that want to track students with tracking devices. Police ready and willing to arrest parents for pretty much anything less than perfect. And the list goes on and on and on. Oppression at its finest.

    And then everyone is surprised when individuals snap.

  33. Backroads June 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    There could be a number of reasons the dad wasn’t going with the kid. Mixed religion family, the kid wanted to go, etc.

    I’d like to be impressed the kid got on the bus to go to church by himself…except he ditched…

  34. Htizzo June 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I used to walk to the family dollar by myself all the time when I was 8… Why is this a crime again?

  35. K June 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    While all of this is about children’s rights to be safe, I think kids who are old enough to be unsupervised should also have the right to go to the Dollar Store by themselves. I think children should have that right, but the fear of a good-deed doer calling police takes away that right.

  36. Jill June 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I always tell the cops I don’t know where I live when they try to arrest me.

    Interestingly, my parents used to send me off to church on the bus every Sunday. They were insistent that I not miss a single Sunday.

    “Be sure and wait until the service is underway and nobody’s looking before you steal the money out of the Poor Box,” they used to tell me.

  37. SKL June 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I remember once claiming that I couldn’t read when I was caught disobeying a posted sign.

    And when I was 6 and got caught shoplifting candy, I wanted to kill my brother for supplying our phone number so they could call our parents. Of course I knew our phone number, but I wasn’t in a hurry to have my parents get that call. Easy to pretend you don’t know your number.

    It didn’t occur to me that if I played dumb, the next step would be for the neighborhood store to call the cops.

  38. SKL June 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    I signed myself up to go by bus to a Sunday School where my parents did not attend church. It was more fun than our usual Sunday School, plus they gave out Bibles and cool stuff if you did your memory work. My parents allowed it, but did not enforce it, and certainly did not supervise it. And if we had decided not to get on the bus, they would not have cared.

  39. EricS June 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    As petty, and unnecessary as these stories are, they are one of the very reasons why people think ignorantly today. Especially when it comes to children. The more people voice out to outrageous “news”, and ignore them, the least likely they will be reported.

    Children running off, getting lost, playing hooky, have been happening for decades. But it’s only in this day and age, that it’s actually making news headlines. And it has promoted the fearful mentality of many today. Ridiculous.

    Don’t spread the fear, spread truth. And the truth is, our kids are as safe today, as they were 20-30 years ago. And adults were never as paranoid then as they are now.

  40. SKL June 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    The word “missing” was not supplied by the father in this case, as far as we know. The use of that word in the news stories makes it sound like the father had reason to be concerned. My guess is that it was not unusual for the boy to be absent from the backyard in the middle of the day, and the father was right to be unalarmed. I mean, big deal, the kid ended up at the dollar store four blocks away. Oh my word, an 8yo crossed a street. Lord help us all.

  41. EricS June 27, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    What’s ironic, is that people with this mindset, think they are “helping” the children. When in fact, they make things worse for them in the long run. Long term litigation against the parents, and court costs. These in turn lead to stress in the family, both for the parents and the children. Sometimes bad enough that it tears the family apart. And sometimes the children end up in foster care. We all know what happens to most kids who end up in the system. And all for what? So that some media company can make money from “headlines”. Some sanctimonious individuals can feel a sense of empowering smugness? People really need to stop and think, before acting. Remove all personal views and opinions, and think about the bigger picture for the family, and most especially the children. Instead of using technology and media to promote fear and doubt, why not use it for something far more useful. Education. In all manners and form. Promote common sense and logical thinking. Challenge people to view things as they really are, not how some people want you to see them.

  42. Stafir June 27, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    The funny thing only real issue with this story is the arrest and stuff leading up to it.

    Seriously…grew up in a small town. To the point my parents (and myself) were known by most people in town. I would not put it past the town..or my parents, or the cops. That if I ever played hooky on something like this, the cops would come..make me feel like I was in major trouble, go to jail, all of that. Then drop me off at my parents, let them know what happened. And then later on I’d wish I was in jail!

    But the point there is…the cops wouldn’t arrest my parents, they would instead notify my parents that I disobeyed their rules, and would make me feel like I was in major trouble for doing so. Yaknow the whole ‘serve’ part of ‘serve and protect’.

    Since i’ve moved…yaknow with all that goes on I really miss being in a small town.

  43. SOA June 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I was probably 10 11 and I walked down to the corner gas station to buy candy when I got bored. It was quite a walk. Probably at least a mile. Nobody batted an eye about it back then. Now a days I bet I would get the cops called on me.

  44. Warren June 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    I think the real question is how many times has this kid successfully skipped church? A successful skip would be one in which he was not caught.

    BIG BROTHER is alive and well. Back when we skipped school or whatever the only worry we had was being spotted out and about by someone that knew both us and our parents. Now you have armed police officers arresting parents for what used to be a phone call.
    Family friend would call and say, “Oh by the way, saw Warren at the …………, today. Thought you may like to know.”

    Now it is a cop, “You’re under arrest.”

    Can see it now. Child leaves for school and everything is great. Developes a fever at school and parents are arrested because they should have been able to predict it.

  45. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    “‘Family Dollar sits on the same state route, but on the opposite side of the street, leading to the conclusion that the boy crossed the street to get to the store,’ Reinbolt said.”

    This quote is amusing on a number of levels (that’s some impressive investigating going on). But, I’m not sure why an 8yo crossing a street, even a busy one (if this was one) is a problem? I’d honestly be concerned about an 8yo, barring special needs, who was not able to safely cross a street. I was extremely cautious about allowing my oldest, who was very inattentive and impulsive when he was younger, to cross the street by himself, but by 8 he was entirely capable of doing so safely.

  46. Donna June 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Dirk, the boy’s own father says that he knows where he lives. I’m confused are we supposed to believe the father (in which case, this whole thing is idiotic) or is the father a liar (in which case, why are we even outraged) or are we only supposed to believe what supports your version of events?

  47. nina June 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    What I’ve realized in my 13 years of being a parent is that free range approach is just as contagious as helicoptering. When other parents see you do it, they tend to follow. In the last 13 years we’ve transfomed 4 different neighborhoods in 3 different cities in 2 different states. What I’m trying to say is if police would find 4 or 5 unrelated unaccompanied children in the same place it would be unlikely that they would feel compelled to drive them all home and thenaarrest their parents. If at any given parking lot there will be several kids happily waiting for their parents in several different cars I doubt that the parents will get their children taken away by cps. There won’t be any room for such things to be considered criminal by legal system. Just something to think about.

  48. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    People are afraid of “stranger danger.” Right? And that is silly because crime is down and the odds of all the bad things a parent might imagine in relation to “stranger danger” is pretty low right? I mean it isn’t likely that your kid will be taken or worse right? So it isn’t something to really worry about right and we should free range to instill a sense of responsibility, growth, and to give childhood back (or for whatever reason). Right?

    What are the odd of a parent getting arrested for free range? Is it more or less than the odds of the the bad stranger danger stuff?

    What I am getting at here is that you are probably far less likely to get arrested for letting your 8 year old walk to to the store than your 8 year old is going to get kidnapped or something.

    I mean, even in the story posted here by Lenore the man that got arrested says “I told the cop he goes out in the neighborhood and plays every day with all the other kids…”

    So this kid has gone outside alone everyday for 8 years without incident and supposedly the father has not gotten arrested before.

    There are only about 100 stereotypical kidnappings a year which gives a .00016% chance of being kidnapped. And if the child has been out playing on his own each day in the neighborhood the father effectively had a .00014% chance of getting arrested over the past two years. His kid was more likely to get kidnapped than he was his chance of getting arrested.

    I joke, those numbers are just rough shod but not entirely off. I guess my point is there is no epidemic of parents getting arrested for free range. There isn’t. The numbers do not support it. You are probably just as likely to get arrested for free ranging it as your kid is to get kidnapped.

  49. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    I don’t have a version of events. I am certain the kid knows where he lives (especially if he lives across the street). I was making fun because it was pretty obvious the kid lied to the cops.

    But, like the song says, I think there is probably more to this story than meets the eye.

  50. nina June 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    I completely agree with dirk. I don’t think we need to be afraid to be free range.

  51. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    This kid is NOT free range…

    He is just another example of how some kids aren’t responsible enough to handle being on their own. Sure the kid didn’t want to get into trouble…so he lies about not knowing where he lives as a delaying tactic. He couldn’t explain himself in any other way to get out of things? He could have said “I live across the street and came over to spend my allowance…” or “I live across the street and my dad sent me over for some milk and I think I lost the money and am looking for it…” or hell “My dad needs smokes and he sent me over…” is a better lie…

    A real free range kid would have been able to explain himself to an authority figure. They wouldn’t have done anything to get into trouble at the store. A real free range kid would have been able to advocate for himself with the cops.

  52. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Hi Nina!

    Absolutely! You shouldn’t be afraid. There is no epidemic of free range parents getting arrested or in trouble. You are about as likely to get arrested or in trouble for free range as your child is likely to get kidnapped…


  53. bmommyx2 June 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    wow, insanity at it’s best

  54. Joy June 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Oh my gosh! My own 26 yr old DD/SIL are helicopter parents-don’t want to hear my opinions and told me not to forward any more articles from here anymore. They truly believe that because my oldest GD (5.5) has blue eyes/long blonde hair, she’s 80% likely to be kidnapped! Grrrr…No one can watch their child 100% of the time. This is truly a miscarriage of justice. “Child Neglect” because his father put his son on a bus to go to church and the child made a poor choice to play hooky??? No one uses common sense anymore. The child needs to be disciplined-NOT the father!!

  55. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    “A real free range kid would have been able to explain himself to an authority figure. They wouldn’t have done anything to get into trouble at the store. A real free range kid would have been able to advocate for himself with the cops.”

    At 8? No. Most adults don’t know how to advocate for themselves around the police, so I certainly wouldn’t expect an 8yo to do so, especially when his main concern is not getting in trouble at home. That’s not a failure on the part of the parents, it’s a kid being a kid and still needing to learn. But it’s not like a kid who is unable to advocate for himself to the police–a skill I’d put beyond the ability of many 8yos–is equally unable to cross a street or walk to a nearby dollar store (activities in which he should not reasonably be expected to have to advocate for himself to the police).

    Kids are kids, free-range or not. And they’re gonna screw up sometimes, free-range or not. Now, I have no idea about this father’s parenting practices, but the free-range issue is that the police apparently think that an 8yo being at a store four blocks from home and–gasp!–having crossed the street is grounds for a child endangerment charge, rather than seeing both as activities that a typical 8yo should be capable of handling, maybe not perfectly, but without being endangered.

  56. SKL June 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    It is not outside the realm of possibility that the little boy was up to a little mischief, which would explain why he did not articulate where he lived when asked.

    It is also possible that he knows where he lives but does not know how to say his address to people who don’t know where he lives.

    It is also possible that he has been taught to never tell strangers his personal information. 😉

    He may have just gone a little farther than he was ready to go, which many free-range and non-free-range kids do at times.

  57. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    @Joy, I’ve known a few families who were convinced that like every stranger wanted to kidnap their daughters because they were cute blondes.

    They didn’t seem to understand that, as far as I’m aware, cute blondes are no more likely to get kidnapped than any other child; it’s just that the media reports on every cute blonde child who goes missing (while largely ignoring minority kids who go missing).

    Plus, it’s just kind of arrogant to think other people want your kid that much. They don’t.

  58. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    AM, kid got himself busted by cops because he lied to them. Cops brought kid back to parent. Parent got couldn’t advocate for himself (perhaps if he hadn’t told the cops to essentially get lost and acted nonchalant when his child had essentially run away from home). This dad didn’t get arrested just because his 8 year old was playing in his own neighborhood. There is going to be more to it.

    I feel bad for this family, the kid, and the dad. But a parents chances of getting arrested for free range parenting is about as high as their kids getting kidnapped. Low low low.

  59. anonymous mom June 27, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    I don’t think parents are at risk of being arrested for being free-range. But I also think if we live in a society where an 8yo can be “busted” by the cops for lying in a very non-malicious, non-dangerous, and juvenile way, that’s a problem.

  60. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    With titles like “Kid, 8, Skips Church to Play. Dad Arrested.” Lenore is replacing one kind of stranger danger with another…

  61. nina June 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Hi joy,
    I personally never try to actively convert anybody to follow my parenting style. I don’t forward links or articles to anyone. I lead by example. I let my kids do the talking. I’m lucky to have good kids. Parents want their kids to be friends with mine because they feel they are good influence. But my kids are allowed a lot of freedom in their movements. So it starts slowly. At first most parents say that their kids could go places, but only if my kids are with them. But after a while they just relax. If people see others do it they begin to feel that it’s a normal behavior.

  62. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    An 8 year old should be busted for lying to the cops. You can’t lie to the police by law.

  63. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    Nina gets it! Good parenting! It’s nice to hear a positive story once in a while. I would love to see more posts (or any) by Lenore closer to post number 1 — when her kid rode the subway and shock…lived. You really aren’t posting anything here in support of how to or success. It is example after example of failure and defeat. Put up some good press once in a while!

  64. Lex June 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it seems to me that Barney Fife needs to get out more if he thinks Route 28 (aka Cherry Street) in Blanchester Ohio is a “busy highway.” It’s not even a busy street, let alone what anybody would call a highway.

    Take a look:

    Oh the horror of having an 8 year old on that busy highway by himself. A fire truck could go by at any moment!

    It’s a one-lane rural road with sidewalks, straight as an arrow and flat as a pancake. A blind three-legged dog could cross that road safely. The idea the kid couldn’t have found his own way the four blocks back home is absurd.

  65. Emily Morris June 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Regarding the backlash against the occasional hooky sister, who admittedly looks very young, was taking a walk one day and was stopped by a cop who accused her of missing school. She explained she was in fact a university student. She showed him her driver’s license and university student id and the coo accused her of faking them. Sis finally told him to do his thing if he was so sure. That finally made him back off.

  66. J- June 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    This is so much more than a free range issue. This is 100% the result of the culture of police overreach that is the product of the war on drugs and the war on terror. And no, I am not in my basement, typing this while wearing a tinfoil hat.

    This blog is full of accounts of parents and children getting arrested for non-crimes or the pettiest of offenses.

    We have reached a point in this country in which police take the position of mandatory arrest. If they get called, someone is going to jail. Look at just how many people get charged with resisting, just to have the charges dropped or dismissed later on. Resisting used to be an ADDITIONAL charge. Someone would get arrested for a crime and then fight with the police. the resisting was tacked on ON TOP OF THE ORIGINAL CHARGE. Now people get arrested for just resisting, which on its face makes no sense.

    How many stories have there been of people getting arrested after 911 is called for an AMBULANCE. The police show up and somebody has to go to jail, diabetic in a coma or en epileptic having a seizure, doesn’t matter.

    You wonder what this father did. The answer is nothing, nothing at all. The police were called, and this guy is going to jail.

    That ladies and gentlemen is the single most infuriating and dangerous thing about all the stories of people calling the police over kids left in cars for 5 minutes. The majority of arrest warrants these days are served by SWAT teams.

    Think about that for a second. Leave your kid in the car for a few minutes, come back, drive home, and 5:00 am the next day, a SWAT team kicks in your door, throws stun grenades at your children, and shoots your dog. Mark my words, that story will appear on this blog within the year.

  67. Dirk June 27, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    @ Lex

    I think the deal was more like, the 8 year lies to them about where he lives, they think something is up. The find out where he lives from another person. They take him home. The dad is confrontational, plus maybe something else happens, and they arrest him. Even if there were no other parts to the story being confrontational with cops is a way to get their attention. They do not like it, mostly because people who cause real issues for them are often like that way.

  68. SusanOR June 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    OK, so here’s the “busy street” from Google Maps. Wow. What planet are they living in that thinks this is unsafe for an 8 year old to cross the road.,-83.980746,3a,90y,270h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s6QLP7HI_fDrDgcfLO-Qj8g!2e0!6m1!1e1

  69. no rest for the weary June 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Dirk, I’m sorry, but the “good press” is so damned mundane it’s not worth mentioning.

    My kids are doing about 50 developmentally normal, unsupervised things a day. Nothing to write home about, nothing to write to Lenore about, and certainly nothing to call the cops about.

    But it is definitely worth acknowledging that the most mundane, developmentally-appropriate aspects of childhood are now being regulated in absolutely nonsensical ways, making parents subject to child endangerment charges.

    Personally, I could give a crap if someone’s kid walked to the store by themselves. Whatever. What I give a crap about is when someone is trying to legislate that out of existence with “child protection” laws, or even parents policing each other to make sure that no one steps out of line with the current hysterical notion that no kid can be anywhere by themselves, ever.

    Keep posting these stories, Lenore. It’s good to keep these things out there, and keep voices of reason tagging onto the comment sections of the local papers where these stories get published, too.

  70. SKL June 27, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Speaking of cops getting their panties in a bunch:

    My sister’s 4yo went to Safety Town recently, and they told all the kids not to ever play with matches. My niece told them, “my parents always let me play with matches.” So when my sister arrived for pickup, the took her into a private room – police, fireman, and teacher – and interrogated her about this horrific fact. My sister was at a loss because she didn’t think her kid had ever seen matches, let alone play with them. They didn’t really believe her, but they let her go. Finally she asked her kid, “say, what did you mean when you told them you play with matches?” Kid says, “the Elmo match game, of course.” One of those match-em-up games. LOL. My sister took a video of her kids “playing with matches” and sent it to the police and fire station. 😛

  71. pentamom June 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    “So, don’t go to Church and your parent/s are criminally punished for it. Hmm, Christian Taliban?”

    No. That’s not what this is about. This is about the parents being punished for letting the kid out of his sight and not knowing where he was (even though he wasn’t where he was s supposed to be.) This has nothing to do with the fact that church was where he was supposed to be. The cops didn’t arrest any other parents whose kid wasn’t at church that day.

  72. Maxine June 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Guilty of being the parent of a child practicing “childhood”!

  73. Donna June 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Dirk, for someone who doesn’t have a version of events, you sure are inserting a lot of facts that aren’t given.

    I see nothing to indicate that the boy was causing trouble in the store. Even if he was, he is 8. Free range kids are still just kids. They are no less inclined than any other kids to engage in moments of mischievousness. I hold no belief that my free range kid is a perfect angel and if I waited to be convinced with 100% certainty that she will perfect before I let her out of my aight, I’d be stuck with my eyes on her forever.

    And if adults had an easy time dealing with police, I’d be out of a job. Expecting it from an 8 year okd is a bit much.

    I also see nothing to indicate that the father was confrontational. He may have been, but who knows.

  74. nina June 27, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    I don’t feel that good press is mundane. I don’t necessarily would be interested in stories where parents listed free range things their kids did on any given day, but l would definitely like to read about how parents help to build communities where free ranging is main stream and no one looks twice at a kid going somewhere by themselves. Yes we do need to be aware of police overstepping their bounds sometimes, but if it’s the only thing that can generate a discussion on this blog, I think we have a problem.

  75. nina June 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    One more point. What I find to be normal and developmentaly appropriate is not necessary normal to other parents. But if they realize that other parents let their kids do things, they might consider it themselves

  76. SKL June 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Lenore does post the good side of free range. Those stories don’t get as much attention, though. They aren’t controversial here with this readership.

  77. Mary S. Tack June 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    “These stories are rare and outrageous enough that they MAKE it to the news.”

    Nuh-uh! My anarcho-libertarian pals at insist that this kind of thing happens thousands of times a day in this once-great land of ours that is now a totalitarian police state ruled by jackbooted thugs! I am not making this up!

  78. SOA June 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    In your family’s defense at least many years ago when I was a child some pretty blonde haired children were at high risk of getting kidnapped…………in Mexico. It might still be that way there I don’t know.

    I just remember literally EVERYONE we encountered telling my parents to be very careful letting me out of their sight while we vacationed in Mexico. Happened on two multiple vacations there. From the taxi driver to the travel agent to the flight attendants to the hotel concierge to the room maid. Something about pretty little blonde girls being repeatedly kidnapped for black market. Not sure for adoption or sex trade. Don’t wanna think about that. But apparently it was a thing. My parents were warned to carry birth certificate and ID on them at all times for me and themselves.

    But unless she is hauling her little girls off to Mexico they are probably not much risk in America where little blonde girls are a dime a dozen.

  79. K June 27, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Agree with Mary. Most people who have active CPS cases have gag orders and so there isn’t as much press about those cases as other areas of law.

  80. CrazyCatLady June 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Oh dear, I am in trouble! I routinely send one or more of my kids into the Dollar Tree to get me stuff when I am grocery shopping. If my 9 year old gets stopped….

    Well, lets put it this way. He has trouble remembering things. Like what town we live in. (Yes, I confirmed this today, when asking him about nouns.) I know he doesn’t know our phone number because he hasn’t practiced it in a while, and it wouldn’t do any good because he also doesn’t know our cell phone numbers, which is what he would need if we were all at the store.

    Now, all of that said…I have no doubt that most normal 8 to 9 year old kids can at least describe HOW to get home if they were put in a car and told to tell the officer how to get there. I am SURE that my kid could do that.

    But, I am going to trust in the good sense of others to not turn him in to the cops when I send him into the Dollar Tree to buy water balloons. I will also trust that no one will call the cops when he is sitting in the car while I am shopping. All of my kids have been told that if someone starts to question them about sitting in the car, that they should immediately WALK into the store and find me. Don’t stay and wait for cops to come. They have the right to not be detained by others. If the cops are waiting when we get outside after shopping….so be it. My kids were obviously able to go into the store if they were hot.

  81. LRH June 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    If the father was confrontation to the police, SO WHAT? I would be, too. HOW DARE someone question my parenting–as the parent of said child, I don’t owe someone else the slightest explanation as to why I parent MY children MY way. Go back to the hole you crawled out of.

  82. Donna June 28, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    SOA – Just because people warned your parents doesn’t mean that it was an actual thing. It just means that people bought into the hype. People warned me about the same thing when I moved to A. Samoa despite there being zero history of anyone ever being kidnapped there for any reason, let alone blondes for slave trade. The whole fear is racial. It is based on the belief that white, nonhispanic children are more desireable and will be taken in areas populated predominately by nonwhite or hispanic people.

    I’m sure there have been blondes kidnapped. That doesn’t mean that they were targeted because of their blondeness.

  83. Dhewco June 28, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    Of course, the kid could have had one of those kid phones and his home number is a button. Then, if his youth pastor didn’t allow phones, been asked to leave it at home. He’s not going to go back for it when he plays hooky…so, he doesn’t have it when questioned by police. A lot of people don’t know their own numbers, not just kids. ‘Hey, that’s what speed dialing is for.’ I’ve been told.

    Of course, I too believe the kid lied to postpone trouble. It’s hard for a kid to think past the next few minutes. He might have hoped that if he lied, the police would believe him and let him go. (Yes, there’s a chance he wouldn’t have understood that saying he didn’t know how to get home was a bad way to get them to let him go.)

    Of course, the police could have assumed with such a bad lie that there was something really wrong at home and the kid was secretly asking for help.

  84. SKL June 28, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    I’m not sure how often people get arrested for free range parenting, but people report “not my kind of parenting” and get cops involved plenty, and that’s bad enough. I’ve had it happen to me at least once. My sister had it happen a couple times (and her kids aren’t even free range). Another relative with multiple kids had it happen and has a CPS file open.

    Whether there is an arrest or not, when the cops are telling people they can’t let their kids do developmentally appropriate things, that’s as bad as having written laws against them, because you never know how far a cop will take it if you don’t comply. And pretty soon that becomes the new norm. And you’re more likely than ever to get a police visit. :/

  85. Warren June 28, 2014 at 7:47 am #


    You are a real piece of work.

    1. You want police to arrest 8 yr olds for lying to them.
    2. For all your cut and paste intellect, you seem to think that being confrontational is grounds for arrest.

    All in all, this is just another one of those cases in which the accused should have exercised his rights, and kept his mouth shut.

    When the cop brought the kid home, dad should have just said thanks, to him inside, shut the door and not said another word to the cop.

  86. Warren June 28, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    Really? Another day of bragging?
    You were so special as a little darling that all those people warned your parents that you, specifically were at risk of abduction? Talk about ego.

  87. SOA June 28, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Its not ego if it was true. Sorry if the truth hurts you.

    Those people may have just been super paranoid but it was weird when everyone said it. And my parents were questioned at the border for a few minutes about me and asked for documentation and they even questioned me asking me “Is that your parents? How old are you? Where do you live?” stuff like that to make sure I was their child.

  88. Melinda Tripp June 28, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Outside playing……….
    I spent my childhood outside playing!
    Too bad another kid had not joined him, then they would have been outside playing…..

    Too bad the store manager did not do a better job.

    Back in the day. Which really makes me feel old, I could go to the store, and play outside till dark, and no one batted an eye.

    Try this, manager says , “are you ok, do you know how to get home? ”
    Then goes back to doing his job.
    The arrest is totally out of line. My poor Mom really give us a lot of freedom.
    Granted on one of the se forays a neighbor teen exposed himself to me, appalling to a ten year old girl……but I ran home, told my mom, she believed me, called the police and the kid, who I knew from another neighborhood …he was arrested for in descent exposure.
    I said no to that sticky situation, I told and the problem was resolved.
    An empowerment moment.
    How does this child feel with his Dad hauled off to jail……?
    He feels like staying inside and playing a video game.

  89. Timothy Seward June 28, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    I have been lurking on this site for a while and I must say that I love it. I want to point out something with this story and all others like it. Yes, we should question the police state in which we are forced to live. That being said, this man is going to court because the district attorney decided to levy charges. The whole justice system is corrupt.

  90. Puzzled June 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Dirk – 1. You’re not arguing against Lenore on danger – it’s exactly what she wrote in her original piece. 2. Confrontation and disagreement are not grounds for arrest – at least, not in a free country.

    MichaelF – what are you talking about? We small-gov’t types (in my case, no government types) work against these sorts of abuses consistently. It just so happens that we lose because there is widespread support for the police state.

  91. Sia June 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    “No person, who is the parent, guardian, custodian, person having custody or control, or person in loco parentis of a child under eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under twenty-one years of age, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.”

    Well, if you’ve got the mindset of “0-18being all the same”…you essentially treat EVERY child above the age of three … maybe four as if they’re mentally/physically handicapped. No doubt the thinking error went like this ‘Oh gosh! I won’t let my toddler go to the store on their own.’

    Reasonable mindset until it devolves into “0-18 is all the same therefore an 8-year-old shouldn’t either.” The fact is that 0-18 or 0-21 aren’t all the same.

  92. Ramona June 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    I miss the days of the Pippi Longstocking movies, where kids would wander down to the village stores all by themselves and no one would give them a second glance, sigh.

  93. anonymous mom June 29, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    “The fact is that 0-18 or 0-21 aren’t all the same.”

    The sad thing is that we live in a culture where this patently obvious fact even needs to be said.

    But, it does. We continue to have ridiculously high expectations of very young children and to infantilize older children and especially teens.

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  95. SteveS June 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    I have seen people arrested for stupid things, but no 8 year old anywhere is going to get arrested and charged for lying to the police. Regardless, I wouldn’t even be willing to say that the child’s conduct rose to the level of obstruction of justice, but I’ll let someone more familiar with Ohio law comment on that.

    Maybe there is more to the story, but it does seem like another instance of something that could/should be handled without any court or police involvement.

  96. Trebleclef June 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    We live in a tiny little coastal town of 1,800 people. Last summer, my seven year old son was playing at a friends house, four houses up the street from ours. Their family decided to go on a bike ride, and told him to go home until they returned. Instead of doing as he was told, my son got it into his head to follow them on foot, and walked downtown by himself, which is about four small blocks away. He crossed the main street (a busy highway, especially in the summer when there is a lot of tourism), and a policeman happened to drive by and see him do this. He pulled over, asked my son where his parents were, what he was doing, and where he was going. Of course, this whole time, I was at home, blissfully unaware and thinking he was just up the street playing.

    When a police cruiser pulled into my driveway, and my son got out of the back seat crying, my heart seized in my chest. Surely something bad must have happened! But, then the policeman asked if I was aware that my son was wandering around town on his own. Of course, I wasn’t aware, and I was livid that my son had disobeyed me and his friend’s mother, but I never considered that my parenting would come into question; small kids disobey their parents sometimes. That is, until the officer asked for my identification, social security number, and other information, and then not only wrote it all down in his little notepad, but called it in on his radio. Then, I started to get a little bit nervous.

    My record came back clean, as I knew it would (no outstanding warrants, no previous instances of neglect, abuse, or endangerment, and in fact, no brushes with the law ever in my entire life), so the most I got was a lecture: “I’m not in the business of telling people how to raise their kids, BUT times have changed, and you can’t just let your kid play unsupervised anymore, because THINGS MIGHT HAPPEN. We live in a different world now, yadda, yadda, yadda…”

    At the time, I was pretty rattled and couldn’t really pinpoint why. It was a pretty benign encounter. But after reading this, I realize that I must have understood the officer’s underlying message, however subconsciously. It is scary to think that they can and will arrest parents (or call CPS) over kids just being kids.

  97. Dave B June 30, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    There was an episode on the british version of Duck Quacks Don’t Echo, where they showed that kids under the age of 4 can’t lie.

    They presented some 3 yo kids with some sweets they shouldn’t eat and a rabbit they shouldn’t pet.
    They did and when asked, told the truth.
    When they did this with 4 yo kids, they all did and when asked, they all lied.

    So i guess you should take everything a 4+ yo says with a grain of salt.

  98. Andy June 30, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    @Dave B Three years old lie too, but are less sophisticated about it. Mine definitely does it. The experiment you have seen proves only they do not lie in that concrete situation, it does not prove they can not lie in general.

    Plus, kids at that age are not super clear on what is reality and what is made up. So, they may be telling things that are not truth while being genuinely convinced they are telling the truth.

  99. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Being confrontational with a cop can lead to your arrest. Period. It doesn’t have to, depending on how you conduct yourself. But people should be aware that policing power is discretionary. Google the phrase “can you get arrested for being confrontational with the police” and see what comes up. I guarantee there will be a bunch of lawyer links saying be polite and talk to them like…you know…nice cops I guess. Reason being if you are confrontational that leads to the cops just looking at you longer and harder. And if you are being confrontational that lends yourself to frankly doing or exposing something they can arrest you for. Simple truth. Let’s follow this case of Jeffrey Williams and see where it goes…

  100. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Williamson plans to fight the charge, reports ABC WXYZ, and will appear in court July 15…

  101. Warren June 30, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Well Dirk,

    Wrong again. Don’t talk nice, don’t play nice, don’t do anything other than exercise your rights. First of which is not to say anything.

  102. Andy June 30, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    @Dirk “Being confrontational with a cop can lead to your arrest. Period.”

    Sure, but we call it abuse of power unless crime happened or you were becoming violent. It all boils down likely it is for a cop to abuse his power.

    “But people should be aware that policing power is discretionary.”

    It really should not be. Not in country that wants to call itself free or wants to call its own justice system “rule based”.

  103. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Hi Andy and Warren,

    Andy, the reason policing power is discretionary is so the cop can give you a warning or take into account mitigating factors. Meaning, if you are rushing to get to the hospital because of whatever reason they do not HAVE to give you a ticket. It avoids catch 22 scenarios and technocratic infractions. I once had a cop use discretionary power and let me go after going through a red light (late at night). The police are afforded a wide range of discretionary powers, covering things from deciding whether or to arrest someone to determining disciplinary actions in the workplace. (However, if a district attorney wants them to arrest someone they HAVE to.) With regards to deciding to arrest someone, I can see many reasons why this discretion is necessary. For example if the police come across two young girls in a park smoking a small amount of marijuana. Now the law says lock them up, however the police can use their discretion and decide to lecture the girls about the dangers of drug use, call their guardians, and let them off with a warning. This is a win-win for everyone involved the girls don’t get in trouble and the police can go back to focusing on more important crimes. Let’s look at the other end of this spectrum. Let’s say there is a young man standing in front of his building, there have been complaints of loitering or break ins in the neighborhood lately, so the police walk up and ask him what he is doing there. Now as far as the young man knows he’s not breaking any laws by standing there so he quickly challenges the police’s authority. A few heated words are exchanged and the young man is arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and, because he struggles during the arrest, a resisting arrest charge. When in court depending on the man’s words and actions he may or may not be convicted of one or both of those charges, BUT the police were justified within the realm of their discretion to arrest him based on his reaction to them and subsequent lack of cooperation.

    Warren, yep you can give minimal cooperation. Here is what the ACLU has to say on the subject.

    – Do stay calm and be polite.
    – Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
    – Do not lie or give false documents.
    – Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
    – Do remember the details of the encounter.
    – Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

    – You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
    – You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
    – If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
    – You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
    – Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

  104. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    The most common issues solved by police discretion include:

    Domestic violence – Especially where verbal abuse is alleged and if there are no obvious bruises or signs of physical violence, it may be difficult to determine who started a fight and who escalated it. The police officer will have to use his or her personal judgment.

    Traffic violations – Because everybody speeds by accident occasionally, a police officer may decide that it is more worth the state’s time simply to give a warning rather than to file the paperwork for someone likely never to commit a traffic violation again.

    Potential hate crimes – A police officer must use his or her discretion to determine if a crime has hate crime elements or if it was just a standard crime. Hate crimes carry more severe sentences, but it can be difficult to determine through evidence. An officer must judge the perpetrator’s character.

    Crimes involving mentally ill individuals – If someone is mentally ill, they may not be charged as heavily because it could be determined that they weren’t in full possession of their faculties.

  105. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    From the article I really think the Cop was going to just bring the kid (who it sounds like had run out his welcome at the Family Dollar) back to his house, but then something happened with the Dad and the Dad got arrested. We will find out on July 15th when he has his day in court…

  106. Andy June 30, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    @Dirk The treatment the young man in your example gotten is horribly unfair and unjust. Especially compared to the one those young marijuana girls did. Are you really suggesting it is ok for cops to act like that?

    It seems like you just describe injustices minority/poor activists complain about and then added “that is how it should he”.

    Reminds me of those school boys arrested for waiting on a bus (loitering) or that store employee who got arrested hundreds times for basically being inside the store he worked at (officially loitering and trespassing).

  107. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Andy,

    No, like I said in my comment I thought those were two ends of a spectrum of discretion.

    I thought the girls example was really lenient and the loitering man example harsh. That being said I also thought that the circumstances of the two examples showed why the police might act that way. Two teenagers smoking a small amount of pot is pretty common place, so they let their parents move forward on it. A man catching a smoke in front of his building is pretty common place too, but the cops had complaints about people loitering so they as him what he’s up to “What are you doing around here?” maybe. He gets verbally aggressive they tell him to act nice he says something else in an aggressive way, they arrest him for disorderly conduct, he resists arrest, they add that to the charges.

    These examples are based purely on the actions of girls and the man. Nothing else.

  108. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    That store employee case, Earl Sampson, is insane. Looks like the city is finally doing something about it!

  109. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I also think that the pot example and the loitering example would be an example of how one group and then the next did and then did not follow the ACLU advice on interacting with the police…

    – Do stay calm and be polite.
    – Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
    – Do not lie or give false documents.
    – Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
    – Do remember the details of the encounter.
    – Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

  110. Warren on June 30, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Minimal co-operation?

    Give me one good reason why any co-operation should be given?

    Secondly, “If I tell a cop to get the F off my property.” That is confrontational for sure, but far from illegal. I really feel sorry for your country, that you accept police abuse of power as normal.

    And in all reality, those times cops let people go, is not within their authority. They are taking a chance, and if complaints are filed the cop will answer for it. They do not have the dicsretion to enforce laws only when they like to.

  111. Andy June 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    @Dirk quoting your description of young man case “Now as far as the young man knows he’s not breaking any laws by standing there so he quickly challenges the police’s authority. A few heated words are exchanged and the young man is arrested and charged with disorderly conduct … ”

    The cops in your example arrested that man on made up charge. It is not as bad as if they would planted marijuana in his car, but it definitely is in the same category.

    He might have failed to follow step 1 of ACLU advice, sure, but ACLU advice is just that. It is not law and breaking it is not an arrestable offence. Btw, are you following that advice? Did you “prepared yourself and your family in case you are arrested”?

    Question: would the same cop that let the marijuana girls go free let go also apparently poor young boy? Lets imagine that poor young boy acted exactly as politely as those girls. What if the boys has also a scar across his face (from bicycle fall)?

    The discretion you describes as “depending on behavior” and good thing is actually discretion that depends on sets of prejudices.

  112. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Hi Warren,

    Police have discretionary powers. It is a real thing you learn about if you go to a police academy, law school, or get a criminal justice degree. All countries allow discretionary powers to police and district attorney’s that I am aware of. Canada, England, Australia, etc. However, discretionary powers are limited and generally controlled by means of local policy. For example in the case of domestic violence officers are expected to take positive action in terms of arresting alleged offenders. There is little or no discretion available.

    In minor offences such as traffic matters a simple word of advice often works better than a ticket or prosecution and improves our relationship with members of the public. A supervisor should notice if any officer is giving out a grossly disproportionate number of tickets or making unnecessary arrests and suitable advice or retraining should be offered to those officers who plainly never exercise any discretion.

    You certainly can curse at the cops. Keep in mind that as a result the officer might become suspicious of your activity and your aggressive attitude leading to further scrutiny.

  113. D July 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Hi Andy,

    In the scenario with the young man I painted it as gray for specific reasons. However, my vision of the scenario was closer to: the cops ask the young man what he’s doing outside on the sidewalk (outside a building/area where reports of break ins and loitering have been reported recently) and that his response wasn’t “I live in this building here/or I am catching a smoke–my building is smoke free. Why? What’s up?” But rather that he said something closer to “None of your damn business.” The cops probably indicate that they are police and it’s their job. He curses them out. They yell at him. He yells back. They tell him he’s under arrest for disorderly conduct (which is typically defined as “makes unreasonable noise and continues to do so after being asked to stop” in most counties) he fights back they add on resisting arrest. It wasn’t a made up charge, the man acted in a certain way that created the situation. In this situation the man would probably get both charges to stick to be honest.

    On the flip side this could go the other way. The Skip Gates incident comes to mind.

    But how you act towards the cops certainly affects their actions and the outcome.

    As for the question if it was a scared boy caught smoking pot rather than couple of girls and if the cop would let him go? I don’t know. Depends on how he acted and I would suspect if his name came up in whatever databases their county has access to. But honestly his actions would hold sway about as much as appearance, and if he had family to call and be handed over to.

  114. D July 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Hi no rest for the weary,

    But this kid wasn’t playing in his neighborhood. He was hanging out in a store and the store was like this kid wont leave to the cops.

  115. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Also no rest for the weary, one of my comments here pointed out that the kid in this story is more likely to be kidnapped than the father is to be arrested.

    What are the odd of a parent getting arrested for free range? Is it more or less than the odds of the the bad stranger danger stuff?

    What I am getting at here is that you are probably far less likely to get arrested for letting your 8 year old walk to to the store than your 8 year old is going to get kidnapped or something.

    I mean, even in the story posted here by Lenore the man that got arrested says “I told the cop he goes out in the neighborhood and plays every day with all the other kids…”

    So this kid has gone outside alone everyday for years without incident and supposedly the father has not gotten arrested before.

    There are only about 100 stereotypical kidnappings a year which gives a .00016% chance of being kidnapped. And if the child has been out playing on his own each day in the neighborhood the father effectively had a .00014% chance of getting arrested over the past two years. His kid was more likely to get kidnapped than he was his chance of getting arrested.

    I joke, those numbers are just rough shod but not entirely off. I guess my point is there is no epidemic of parents getting arrested for free range. There isn’t. The numbers do not support it. You are probably just as likely to get arrested for free ranging it as your kid is to get kidnapped.

    I mean not only is this entire “bit” about parents getting arrested for their kids free range-ish actions so unlikely it is also usually false. Most of these stories bury the fact that yeah a 12 year was at the mall “on their own” and the parents got arrested…but it leaves out that the 12 year ditched a 5 year old in a department store for 30 minutes while they tried on some clothes or something.

  116. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    But like I said…from the article I really think the Cop was just trying to bring the kid (who it sounds like had run out his welcome at the Family Dollar Store) back to his house, but then something happened with the Dad that ended up with the Dad getting arrested. We will find out on July 15th when he has his day in court…

  117. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Oh, and Warren. Yep. Certainly exercise your rights!

    – You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
    – You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
    – If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
    – You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
    – Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

    Notice how none of those rights include verbal or physical aggression!

  118. Andy July 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    @Dirk Seriously, you call the behavior of cops in your example ok? They loose their temper upon his refusal to answer, which he has right to in USA. They escalate the argument and then charge him with disorderly conduct, just because basically they can?

    If cops act really like this, I see why the local population tend not to trust them. I really hope this kind of policing will never come where I live.

  119. Jeffery k williamson July 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Hey everyone this is Jeff the troubled dad I want to thank everyone that’s on my team the blanchester police need fired and let sheriff take over because they are not doing there job. There is meth heads and crack heads and heroine addicts raising kids and the police call me a troubled dad for my juvienille sons actions that has ADHD and who’s mother has 2 weeks to live she is 28 and is dieing from cancer and she is on hospice and has not seen her in 2 years by his mothers fault not mine. And lucky cps dropped case said he was safe. But cps is a joke too always out for middle class I do not see them in rich neighborhoods they stereotype people and everything is always up to cops and cps that’s why after I win this case and maybe even sue I will have to move from this town because they emotionally affected my kids and I do not feel like being harrassed by cop next 18 years with my kids being in school I will go somewhere where they can catch real criminals.

  120. Jeffery k williamson July 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    This is jeffery williamson and thanks to all who supports me

  121. Warren July 1, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    You come across as a DA or ADA trying to justify abuse of authority.

    No I do not have to announce to a cop that I intend to exercise my rights. Because the cop has no right to expect that he can abuse my rights.

    And there is nothing saying that if I want a cop off my property that I have to be nice and polite about it.

    You warn about being non coopertative will only lead to further scrutiny…………if you are a lawyer, you are a poor excuse for one. They can want to scutinize all they want, but without warrants and court orders, they can stay the hell out of my business and off my property.

  122. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Hi Andy,

    Refusal to answer is clearly ok. Officers who are not in control of their tempers or who consistently exceed the typical arrest rates for certain charges will be brought to the attention of their supervisors. I would suggest next time you see a police officer not doing anything, maybe getting coffee etc, you ask for an opinion.


  123. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Jeff,

    Good luck to you. I would suggest that you have as many witnesses available as possible on July 15th and beyond. Without additional evidence courts usually follow the statements of arresting officers. I wish you the best of luck.


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  125. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Hi Warren,

    The supreme court has ruled that you need to invoke your right to remain silent in order to exercise it. As with the right to an attorney, to gain the full protection of the right to silence, you must unequivocally invoke the right to remain silent. Simply remaining silent does not trigger the right to have an interaction cease. The Fifth Amendment will not prevent statements made after a period of silence from being used as evidence, unless the suspect clearly communicated a desire to invoke the right to remain silent.

    Basically, if you’re ever in any trouble with police and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut.

    Now aggressive speech towards law enforcement is trickier. Essentially, cursing out the cops and yelling at them is indeed a crime (some of the time). Check this out of you want some examples…

    You know what Warren, I think you would like this link A LOT more…

    It phrases things in a way I think you would dig. It isn’t that I don’t think what you want to do is negative or not in the scope of legality. But the results you want might not be obtainable by the way you go about it.

    That being said I do disagree with you in that I don’t know why you would say the types of things you are talking about, or why you think the police would be interested in you at all.

  126. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Hi Jeff,

    If you need an attorney I would recommend you contact the ACLU.

    Good luck,

  127. Warren July 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Hate to burst your bubble but that supreme court ruling does not apply to me, my friends or family.

    And you need to read and understand better. My examples of confrontational speech is neither a desire nor history.
    You were the one accepting that basically if the police do not like the way you talk to them, that it is okay to arrest.

    If as you say the police have such powers, then you all have no one to blame but yourselves for allowing such things to evolve.

  128. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    what country?

  129. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    In response, ahem, Police are not allowed to arrest you if they “don’t like” the way you talk them. The way one presents themselves leaves one open on most jurisdictions to specific violations. As for the further scrutiny. It isn’t a legal tradition, but yeah, people who attract attention to themselves by acting crazy generally get a longer look.

    Like I said, “I don’t think what you want to do is negative or not in the scope of legality. But the results you want might not be obtainable by the way you go about it. That being said I do disagree with you in that I don’t know why you would say the types of things you are talking about, or why you think the police would be interested in you at all.”

    I believe in peace officers, not law enforcement.

  130. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    If as you say the police have such powers, then you all have no one to blame but yourselves for allowing such things to evolve. The police have very few “powers’ unless you are breaking the law. It is true that almost every interaction with the cops can immediately be ended with:

    “Am I free to go?”
    “I don’t consent to a search.”
    “I’m going to remain silent.”

    But unless you have actually committed a crime you shouldn’t have to do anything other than treat the police like human beings. That being said… Depending on a persons situation you may have a different relationship with the police. That some people are put in a situation where they can’t trust the cops is wrong, bad, and sad. If you don’t believe me google the phrase “Tupac’s last words.”

  131. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm #


    In R. v. Singh (163 C.R.R. (2d) 280), a person in police custody invoked his right to silence 18 times, and after each invocation, the police continued to browbeat the detained subject with further questioning, implying that his claim of a right to silence was either ineffective or meaningless. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that this police behavior did not violate the right to silence, so the evidence obtained could be admitted. It is important to note that most rights in Canada can be limited by s. 1 of the Charter, which permits rights to be reduced if they interfere with substantial government interests, or by s. 24 of the Charter.

  132. Warren July 2, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Your example from our supreme court is apples to oranges. He was in custody, not approached on his own property. Glad you don’t practice law up here.
    Secondly the act of a child skipping church in no way is against the country’s interests.

    Keep trying though, you might get one correct eventually Dirk.

    And yes I have had a few unpleasant run ins with idiot cops that think their badge means they are God. You know the ones with attitudes that get royally pissed when you don’t kiss their butts. I really love it when they think they can tell me how, where and when to do my job, which does not come under their jurisdiction whatsoever.

  133. Warren July 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for most cops, as I called many of the friends and teammates on ball and hockey teams. Those ones are the first to admit that there is a fair number of aholes doing the job, and will tell you that if you have done nothing wrong, you do not have to put up with their crap.

  134. Dirk July 3, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Certainly there are bad cops out there (or rather tough guy cops. Better they be jerks, as you sort of called them, than lazy or on the graft).

    You are certainly right that you can “kick the cops of your property.” Same is true in the states (unless they think a crime is being committed but they would have to prove it later.

    I kinda don’t get the antagonism though. Like Americans people that get pissed at the border patrol for stopping them between America and Mexico. The border patrol is looking for smugglers why give them a hard time? In Texas for example there are people that walk around with guns holstered just so they can argue with the cops about it. What’s the point. As a youngster I had to deal with the cops (underage drinking in the woods, speeding tickets, etc) and even had to go to court on a citation once. None of it was a big deal and all of it was because of something I had actually done. The one time it was a jerk maneuver was a ticket for a broken tail light on my car. That was in a town known for pulling over teenagers and “harassing” them. I have seen examples of racism by police though. As a whole all of my experiences with cops have been fine to positive, and 99% of the ones I know or have talked to have been people at least doing their jobs to guys who were awesome. But like I said, any attention I have gotten from the police has 100% come from my own actions or something related to me. Cops definitely can go on power trips though, but they usually don’t arrest people while on those trips…I don’t know what “crap” you are talking about though that you feel like you have to put up with. Even the jerk ones are just people doing the jobs we have hired them to do.

    This guys court date has been moved up to the 10th of

  135. Dirk July 3, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    The fact that the kid skipped church as opposed to just skipping out is irrelevant. You know there is more to this story than the words typed at the top of this webpage.

  136. Warren July 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Better they be jerks than lazy?

    Give you inflated head a shake. Better they do the job they were hired, trained and paid for than be jerks.

    For example, having a cop wake me up, when I was sleeping in the cab of my service truck. To tell me that he doesn’t like seeing that in his city, and to not do it again. I explained that I had just finished a service call, the shop opens shortly, and I wasn’t going home and disturbing my family for less than an hours sleep. This arrogant cop said he didn’t care not to do it anymore.

    Then the attitude came out in me. ” Sucks to be you then. I am not breaking any laws, I am on my employer’s property, in my employer’s truck. And unless he intended to make an arrest to get his ass of the property.” My manager was told what went down, and immediately called the police to lodge a complaint.
    I have had cops try to tell me I cannot do my work on the side of the highway, and for us to move. They get told to take it up with the Ministry of Transportation and leave us alone. As the work I am legally doing is under their jurisdiction.

    So Dirk, if you are afraid to stand up to a cop, that is your own weakness. Do not tell me that I have to. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Don’t give a rat’s ass if you are wearing a badge or not.

  137. Warren July 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Probably is more to the story.
    The cop most likely insisted on lecturing the dad on his parenting, and was told to mind his own business.
    Arrested for not listening to a cop sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.

  138. Dirk July 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I’m not afraid to stand up to a cop. I just have never been in a situation where I had the need to do so. I guess I could have told them off when I was a half drunk 17 year old dragging a keg into the woods. But then again…I was breaking several laws at the time…

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