A mother in Westbrook, Maine, is angry after police charged her with child endangerment for letting her 7-year-old play in a park across the street.
On Wednesday afternoon, police responded to a report that Nicole Jensen’s daughter, Brooklynn, was playing alone for about an hour. Police picked up Brooklynn and took her into the station. Nicole, who lives a few hundred feet away from the park and can watch her children from her porch, was outraged that police terrified her daughter. “They brought her to the police station when her house is right there,” Nicole told WMTW reporters, elaborating that she makes her kids check in with her every hour, and that Brooklynn “did nothing wrong.”
“They said, 'Do you know where your daughter is?' and I said, 'Yes,' and they said, 'Well no you don't. She's at the police station,” Nicole said. "[The officer] said she was at the park unsupervised, no one knew where she was, and if I hadn't gotten a hold of you, I would have taken her into DHHS.”
Jensen’s supporters believe that police response was disproportionate to what actually happened. Blogger and host of television show “World’s Worst Mom” Lenore Skenazy quips on her blog Reason.com that officials are treating this “as if they had endured Hurricane Katrina, or something.”
Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts did not see eye-to-eye with Nicole and her supporters. An hour is “a long time for a 7-year-old girl to be by herself in any location, let alone a public park,” she told WMTW. “If we're not able to locate the responsible adult and reunite the child with that person, then we're going to bring them back where we've got the resources and the facilities to watch her and care for her.”
Nicole says that she often relies on a solid group of people she knows to look after her at the park. “I can usually count on at least a dozen that I know and that she plays with,” she said. “We watch each other's kids. I don't just send her over here and ignore her all day.”
The case has been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, and Nicole is ready to fight her endangerment charge in court.