This summer, I realized that most of my neighbors don't speak to each other and call the police on each other all the time. Mike and I decided that we were not going to get involved in all the neighborhood drama. Instead, we would try to be good neighbor to everyone. It didn't work.
The family (I'll refer to them as Jill) who lives behind me doesn't speak to three other people on our block, and the three families involve the police in all their squabbles. Her family recently began to have problems with the house across the street from them. The neighbor (I'll refer to them as Jack) doesn't like children and calls the police when Jill's children write on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk or ride bikes and skateboards in the street. Jill's dog has entered Jack's yard which is yet another problem.
Monday night, Steve had returned from the skateboard park with his friends. He and his friends were skating on the sidewalk in front of my home. Jill's children and their friends were skating in the street in from of Jack's home. Jack called the police on Jill's children stating that they were blocking traffic. My children were called inside a short time later, due to darkness.
Half an hour later, a policeman arrived on my front porch and asked to come in a speak with me. After he entered the house, he asked how many children I had. After I responded he behaved in a threatening manner. The police man towered over me and spoke loudly (the kids could hear him upstairs in the back bedroom.) He stated that Jill had told him that MY children were blocking traffic on the street and that their skateboard ramps were also blocking traffic. We don't own any skateboard ramps or rails (Jill does.)Jill received a ticket for her dog during their interview, because the dog was not restrained. He stated that no skateboards were allowed anywhere in the city, except at the skate park. There had been multiple complaints from several people that my children were blocking traffic with ramps. If the police received any more complaints all my children and I would be sited with tickets ($150 each.)
I explained that we didn't own ramps and that my children were on the sidewalk. He stated that he would not take my word about my children's actions and that
I had received my only warning. He then took my license number for future verification on the children involved. Continued to drone on about my liability for approximately 15 in an aggressive manner. By the time he left, I was crying. I had been treated more like the owner of a meth-house whose children had just mugged a 99 year old crippled woman than a mom whose child was supposedly skateboarding in the wrong location.
After calming down, I checked the city ordinances in our small town. Skateboards are not allowed on the streets, but are allowed on the sidewalks, except in the down town area. I don't live downtown. After Mike came home, I explained what had happened.
He went to the police station the following afternoon to speak with the officer. He learned from the officer at the desk, that two complaints were made by ONE person (Jack) and that the policeman who visited me had said that it was my children, and that I had agreed that it was my children who were in the street on the next block.
Mike spoke with the officer about the visit to our home and that I only have 3 children who skateboard. My children were in front of my house. The 10-12 on the neighboring street were not mine. Mike mentioned the ordinance that states that skateboards are allowed on sidewalk as long as they don't impede pedestrian traffic. The officer said that anytime children are on sidewalks they are blocking the sidewalk. He also reiterated that if children were skateboarding in my area, I would be ticked.
The chief of police walked past Mike and the officer. Mike asked the chief if he could speak with him, because he was getting no where with the other policeman. The chief of police said that my kids could ride their skateboards on the sidewalk in front of my house. After he left, the original officer stated that the ordinance gave the police a "lot of discretion in regards to skateboarders" and that he would issue my family tickets if another complain comes in about skaters in my area.
I'll be attending the next several city commission meetings and getting into contact with the commissioners about this law. Any time an officer is allowed to give a ticket to someone who is following the law, there's a problem. Laws should be relatively black and white. Policemen should not be allowed to be judge and jury. My neighbor (Jill) is no longer a person who I respect. I would like to sell our current house and move outside the city.
Mike and I spent a lot of time reading about the police department and the ordinances in our town. The biography on the officer who visited my house stated that the favorite part of his job is serving the community and working with people.
Today, Jill's children were skateboarding on the sidewalk and road in front of my house.