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Sensible parenting emphasized for reducing crime

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JOHN CAPPS /Ellis County Press

ELLIS COUNTY - Area peace officers believe sensible parenting is a critical factor in our hope to reduce crime. In recent interviews with the Ellis County Press, numerous qualified and experienced peace officers overwhelmingly emphasized the parents' role in deterring crime.

Independent of one another and across a broad front, it is apparent police are observing the same universal trends in all our communities, big and small. As if in unison, police are in effect saying while parenting is seen by some mothers and fathers as a gratifying opportunity, others have 'got it down perfectly' on how to raise a criminal.

Assistant Police Chief David Landers of Hutchins told the Ellis County Press he has worked with the problem over and over. 'For some reason, too many parents think their kids can do no wrong, and all too often they ignore all the warning signs,' Landers said. 'I have found it is not unusual for parents to cover for their children when they get into trouble.'

Landers spoke of a case involving two young brothers who were observed by witnesses while the boys allegedly took a large sum of money from a lady's purse. Then they appeared at a nearby store attempting to break a large bill to buy candy.

When the mother was summoned by police, she insisted her children wouldn't do anything so bad. She even tried to emphasize they were good boys who went to church. Allegedly, the boys later admitted to police they gave most of the stolen money to their mother.

Landers, also an active member of Promise Keepers, said 'It is obvious many children are not taught enough morals nor instructed to honor adults. Many parents don't want to hear about their child's problems, and too often the only council they give their children is a warning not to get into trouble.'

Sergeant Todd Woodruff, a criminal investigator with the Waxahachie Police Department, said he has seen many incidents where faulty parenting eventually helps foster a career criminal.

'Police officers are constantly faced with parents that repeatedly defend their children, sometimes even after a child has been handled by law enforcement on many occasions. 'Relentlessly defending a badly behaved child, and the denial of a child's guilt in his or her early years, may be a determining factor in whether or not the child chooses to live a life of crime.'

Woodruff said he understands a parent taking up for a child the first time the child faces accusations, but unfortunately the parent's misguided protection of an accused child often endures into the child's teens. 

Woodruff recalled a case of a 28-year-old man arrested and charged with robbery. The suspect had recently been released from prison for robbery, and had even served an additional prison term for robbery.

Woodruff said the repetitive pattern effectively demonstrates the arrested man is a career criminal.

'The suspect's mother insisted he would never do such a thing, and this came after detectives informed her of five witnesses who identified her son as the gunman. Facing a 99-year prison term, he pleaded guilty when offered a lesser sentence. She still maintains he is innocent.'

Woodruff added 'The law requires that police officers support their arrests with probable cause; usually some overt action on the part of the child has resulted in their detention.

'Parents must be aware of the possibility their children sometimes can and will do wrong. The police are not the ones to blame when their child gets in trouble,' Woodruff said.

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