Respect for law and order

Representatives of the Massena Police Department join members of the Police Activities League of Massena to celebrate the club’s opening in January. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Massena Police Department wants parents to take responsibility for disciplining their children rather than bringing them to the police station and asking officers to put children in handcuffs or jail cells.

“Please do not bring your children to our station wanting us to discipline them for something that you as a parent/guardian should be handling at home,” they said in a Facebook posting directed at parents and guardians.

“We DO NOT place handcuffs on children, we DO NOT put children in our holding cell, and we DO NOT instill fear of the police in children. We want children to feel comfortable coming to a police officer when that child is in need or in danger,” they said.

However, they added, “We will always welcome opportunities to partner with and assist parents/guardians on educating their children in a positive and caring environment only.”

They said it was unfortunate, but necessary, that they had to make the post.

Chief Jason Olson declined to comment further. But Mayor Timmy J. Currier, who retired as chief of police in November 2014, said some parents and grandparents have used the police as scare tactics in the past.

“Having previously been in the law enforcement profession for more than 27 years, I can recall many experiences where parents or grandparents verbalized something about the police to their children or grandchildren in an attempt to instill fear in that child,” he said.

“We heard things, quite commonly, like, ‘You better behave or that police officer will take you away,’ and while I understand that in many cases parents and grandparents were not being malicious, but the suggestion could easily create fear and distrust toward the law enforcement,” Mr. Currier said.

In today’s world, he said children need to be aware of the importance of the police, not fear them.

“In today’s sensationalized climate of media coverage, exasperated by normalized misleading social media information, now more than ever, parents and grandparents should be teaching kids to seek facts and to understand what the police and other government institutions do for us,” he said. “I am in no way dismissing the importance of reform and the need to hold all professions, including the police, to the highest standards we can.”

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