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That's one expensive bouncy ball

The town of Hooksett, New Hampshire is abuzz today with the story of an overzealous police officer.

Back on July 26, Officer Dan Bray spotted the Carter family's car going through Hooksett. And as he watched, he saw several objects go flying out a rear window -- some wrappers, a toy, and a bouncy ball. He was on his way home, so he just made a few notes about the incident.

And last Sunday morning, he showed up at the Carter family's home with a $288 ticket in hand.

The family is planning on fighting the ticket. After all, they say, what parent hasn't had a four-year-old toss stuff out the car? And they're a bit miffed that the officer didn't pull them over and talk to them at the time, instead of waiting a week and a half to give them the citation.

If it goes to court, it could be a tough case. The Union Leader's reporter interrogated the prime suspect, and she was not interested in cooperating.

On Sunday, Natasha was tight-lipped when asked about the alleged ball-out-the-car-window incident. At first she shook her head up and down, then side-to-side. She paused to push some stray hairs back from her face and then did a double-twirl on her way from the lawn to the sidewalk next to her house.

"I don't know," she concluded, as she skipped away clutching a bright yellow tennis ball.

But Hooksett's people are pretty divided about the case. On the one hand, they find the situation a smidgen ludicrous. On the other hand, Hooksett has a real problem with littering. Merchants and residents along the main roads have been grumbling about it for years, and are sick of picking it up. And they have a real problem with those butt-heads who toss cigarettes out the window, fearing a brush fire.

I think I know how this story will play out. The Hooksett police will let the story get a bit more play, then drop the charges against the Carters. That way the message will get out that they're now serious about people using the roadsides as their private dumpsters, but they won't look like bullies for going after the Carters for the actions (er, alleged actions) of their four-year-old.

And from now on, I strongly suspect the Carters will keep the windows up when they're driving Natasha around.

Comments (10)

Typical response. Explain ... (Below threshold)

Typical response. Explain away the offense by criticizing the way the officer handled it, and ignore the lack of supervision that created it.

Perhaps this officer is trying to instill some personal responsibility in this (parent), so he doesn't have to arrest her child in ten years.

What if the ball had caused a motorcycle to lose control, killing it's operator? Any one feel differently then? What if it was YOUR family member killed?

I wouldn't diminish this too quickly. Too many parents simply don't do their job, which is clearly apparent in our society today.

LJD, you beat me to it. I ... (Below threshold)

LJD, you beat me to it. I do wish the officer had pulled the car over at the time (after all, the kid had another 10 days of object throwing), but either the parent was truly unaware of what the child was doing in the back seat (it's possible) and needed to be told, or worse, the parent knew and ignored it.

I think a warning without a fine should be issued, but a record kept so that it Naughty Natasha doesn't clean up her act (groan!), there are more serious consequences. Better yet, have Mom and Natastha clean up a small stretch of road as the Adopt a Highway program does.

If it was important enough ... (Below threshold)

If it was important enough to give a ticket, it should have been important enough to stop the family and give it to the right then.

I mean really, the cop is too lazy to his job 'cause he's tired? So he only works when he feels like it? Man, I hope there isn't a bank robbery or a burglary or rape when he is on his way home.

I don't feel over sympathetic to the family either. Parents shouldn't let kids through things out of a car, moving or not. $288 is not outrageous for that infraction.

But, again, if the cop thought it serious enough to actually right the citation, he should have put down the donut and stopped them right then and there.

It's like paddling a dog 2 days after he poops in the house. It doesn't work as correction/discipline, and it just annoys the dog.

I was going to complain abo... (Below threshold)

I was going to complain about the cigarette-tossers routinely not being ticketed, either, then I read that part in Jay Tea's thread and I see I am not alone in this miff-issue.

One of my worst disappointments when I first arrived in Hawaii was seeing the huge amounts of discarded cigarette butts all over most intersections in towns/cities there (not "most" towns/cities, but ALL). There are more smokers in Hawaii in relationship to the population than in other states/regions -- mostly because there are higher numbers of Asians there in the populations and higher percentages of Asians smoke than do other racial types, with the exception of probably the French Europeans and maybe also South Americans, but in Hawaii, it's the higher numbers in the population of Asians who are more often smokers than not, at least as I can figure).

Anyway, the place you'd anticipate being lovely and all is laced with cigarette butts on every signal change street intersection, along all the streets in commercial and even non commercial areas, on the beaches, parks...it's rank!

I never see patrol pulling them over, ticketing the many who just throw the butts out their windows as if they were going to disappear afterward. Can't ever figure out why because the problem creates major trash.

I'm with Jay Tea, this is f... (Below threshold)

I'm with Jay Tea, this is funny because its so trivial. Not everything requires a 'Conservative Response' about parental responsibility. Sometimes a guffaw is the correct response.

And yes, "What if the ball had caused a motorcycle to lose control, killing it's operator? Any one feel differently then? What if it was YOUR family member killed?" It could happen, but it didn't. Life is full of uncertainty and an unfair demise is almost certainly everyone's fate. Personally, I've always felt that I would die in a freak accident, the kind that just makes people shake their heads and say: "Wow, I guess when you time's up, your time's up". But whatcha gonna do?


Well I know the one time I ... (Below threshold)

Well I know the one time I ever managed to get something thrown out the window my mom pitched a fit and gave me heck up one side and down the other. Maybe little Natasha is in for the same ride.

I see all points and unders... (Below threshold)

I see all points and understand. But ten days? C'mon.

Notice alot of people sayin... (Below threshold)

Notice alot of people saying the cop was lazy or that he should have pulled the parents over. There is a problem with this line of thinking. He was off duty and unable to pull them over. It says it right there in the article. As we do not know his department specifics we cannot necessarily agree for sure that he was "unable" to pull them over, but it would not be surprising that his department has a policy that prohibits off duty officers from making stops for minor offences. Police have tons of paperwork and expense; it is probably easier all around for them to deliver citations in the allowed 30 days if a violation is witnessed that would not allow for an off duty officer to make the stop.

That it took ten days is neither shocking or commendable. Again, we are talking about a thankless job with as much paperwork as filing your tax returns, and getting to file said paperwork continuously throughout the year. It takes alot of time, and if he was busy it could very well have taken ten days to get free and deliver the citation.

Now, is alot of the above speculation? Yes, but it is a damn sight more reasonable than making claims that the officer is lazy and ten days is some horrible offense to the punctuality sensors of the common man.

The law requires that child... (Below threshold)

The law requires that children must ride in the back seat. Restraining a childs hands... well, that will probably result in an abuse charge. Many car windows can be locked, but not all. If a parent hears a window unexpectedly opening in the back seat, the safest course of action is tell the child to close it, to check ahead, check the mirrors, see if it is safe to stop the car and correct the situation; but by that point the ball can already be out the window. And the driver might judge that it is not safe to stop at the moment. After all, maybe there's no shoulder and there's someone following too close behind. Maybe that someone is even the off-duty police officer.

Does parental responsibility therefore require that one always have two adults in the car if there is a small child in the back, so that one can keep an eye on the child at all times?

Case dismissed.

Frankly, I think most of yo... (Below threshold)

Frankly, I think most of you are making a big deal out of nothing! I know the officer, and he wasn't trying to make a statement or anything, he was just doing his job. He didn't give the ticket to the 4-year-old, he gave the ticket to her mother, who obviously wasn't paying attention to what was going on. One item out the window might be classified as an accident, but four? It would have been the same thing if the officer had noticed that the child wasn't seatbelted in. It is the parent's responsibility, not the childs. I know for a fact that the Hookset police department doesn't allow its off-duty officers to pull over people. How do you people think he would have pulled them over? Flash his hi-beams and wave his badge around? Give me a break and use a little common sense. Oh and Kristian, learn to proof read before you start making stupid comments about police officers and donuts, because the next time you call for help, I hope you are remember your posting and are humbled that someone you don't even know, "dropped his donut" to come to your rescue.






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