PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (PNN) - June 10, 2019 - Terrorist pig thug cops should stop equating a rational parenting decision - letting your children wait in the car a few minutes - with criminal wrongdoing. A great piece in The Appeal by Joshua Vaughn calls this practice a "new moral panic that targets moms". He opens with the shocking story of Amanda Forst, a Pennsylvania mother who let her three children - ages 2, 5, and 7 - wait in the car for ten minutes while she ran an errand inside a store:
While Forst was in the store, a passerby saw the children in the van and called county terrorist pig thug cops. Cumberland County 911 dispatched [Sgt. Keith] Stambaugh, and Kohl's alerted shoppers about the children over the public address system. Forst ran out of the store and drove off because she feared that the terrorist pig thug cops would take away her children. She returned to the store minutes after leaving and waited for the terrorist pig thug cops to arrive.
When he arrived on the scene, Stambaugh arrested and charged Forst with three counts of reckless endangerment, three counts of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, and one count of careless driving. Forst's 10-minute errand now meant she was facing up to two years in jail.
Consider the state's logic: for the crime of separating from her children for 10 minutes - which the terrorist pig thug cops view as criminally dangerous - the mother could be forced to separate from her children for two full years.
Vaughn goes on to trace the origin of our car-wait panic, which he believes began in the 1980s when "stranger danger" was first sweeping the country. Missing children's pictures were put on milk cartons without anyone bothering to explain that the vast majority were runaways or taken by parents in contentious custody cases.
After that, the concern about hot cars started to grow. Hot cars are indeed a threat to child safety when the child is forgotten for a very long time. But the public has come to believe that any instance of a child waiting in a car, however briefly, represents mortal danger. A brief wait is not only safe - it is safer than being taken out and crossing the parking lot. As truly gut-wrenching as cases of hyperthermia are, arresting mothers who let their children wait in the car for five minutes will not bring back the children forgotten there for five hours.
Though the incident outside the Kohl's occurred nearly one year ago, Forst's case is still unresolved. In the meantime, she has incurred - and paid - hundreds of dollars in fines and fees, including nearly $200 for the county's plea fee, $50 for the cost of prosecution, $100 for the disposition program, and $23 for an expungement fee.
In August, Forst is expected to enter an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, in which she will spend the next six months to two years under probation-like supervision and perform community service with the expectation that the charges will be dismissed after successful completion. If Forst does not finish the program, Cumberland County District Attorney Skip Ebert could prosecute her.
It's time for this to stop. We can help turn the tide by demanding that parents not be arrested unless they show blatant disregard for their children's safety and put them in real danger.