Report: Mom thrown in jail for letting kids play outside

A Texas woman was arrested for child endangerment because she let her children ride scooters out front of her house. She watched from her front lawn. Her neighbor called the police to report her when she saw the children outside. She reportedly didn’t see the mother watching. (See the video above for the full story.)

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“ ‘Orange jump suit, in a cell, slammed the door, for 18 hours,’ Tammy Cooper told KPRC-TV.”

“Cooper was arrested for child endangerment and she is disputing the charges. According to Yahoo News:

“Cooper is suing the La Porte Police Department, the officer, and the neighbor who made the call. In a statement, the police department said it was “confident of the known actions of the officers on the scene that evening.” The neighbor had no comment.”

It is disturbing that the mom was arrested when she was actually watching her kids play out front. But what if she hadn’t been watching? Isn’t that a parents’ call whether the street is safe enough for her kids to play out front? Isn’t it their call if their kids are mature enough to be outside alone?

What are your thoughts on this story? Should the cop have used some common sense and not arrested the mom despite the neighbor’s call? Should the mom have been arrested even if she had NOT been watching? What should happen to the neighbor?

53 comments Add your comment

Out by the Pond

September 24th, 2012
7:00 am

When I first heard this story I thought it was a gag or put on. I know that Texas tends to be knee jet reactionaries but REALLY? Busted for letting the kids being exposed to harmful rays from the sun? What was this mother thinking? Why, she was even exposing herself to the evil sun rays.

The cop should get a minimum of two weeks without pay, the neighbor should spend the same amount of time in lock up as the offending mother plus 100 hours of community service (nothing involving children). A jury should decide whether there should be any financial compensation and how much. If I was on the jury it would be $100,000 coming equally from the city and the Nosey Neighbor.

gtmom

September 24th, 2012
7:27 am

This is just plain stupid. The kids were 6 and 9 and they were playing together. Kids today are more likely to die early from heart failure or diabetes from inactivity. I don’t care if the mom was sitting outside or not, she was allowing them to play (which is better for their health than putting them in front of a TV). These kids are not babies and there is safety in numbers. Also, every kid is different. It is up to the mom to know her own kids to know if they are responsible or not. I babysat every summer by the time I was age 9.

cobbmom

September 24th, 2012
7:35 am

My elementary age son and neighbors play basketball outside in our cul-de-sac every afternoon. There isn’t a parent watching, we do have older high school aged siblings who are in and out. We have never had a problem. I feed snacks and/or dinner to whomever happens to come inside.

We used to live in a neighborhood where the children played in the cul-de-sac every day, one neighbor (without children) put up spikes around his fenced in yard to keep the children from coming near his house and wouldn’t return their toys if they went over his fence. I never understood why he bought a house in a neighborhood full of elementary aged children if he disliked children so much. I would say the same holds true for the neighbor, apparently he/she isn’t particularly fond of children.

Mayhem

September 24th, 2012
7:49 am

My kids are NEVER inside. I guess I should go turn myself in now and avoid all that embarrassment when the po po comes to my house.

Can you imagine the 911 call?

911: Hello, what is your emergency?
Nosey Neighbor: Um, there are two children playing outside in their front yard, and their Mom is out there with them.
911: HOLY CRAP!. We will send someone out there IMMEDIATELY. You better go back inside QUICK, before other children come out to play.
Nosey neighbor: HURRY, they are riding bikes, and laughing, and I just don’t know how much more torture these poor innocent children can endure. Even their Mom is out side with them. OH THE HORRORS!!!!! Please send a squad car and arrest that woman!!!

MomsRule

September 24th, 2012
7:53 am

If this story is true as reported then it saddens me. What on earth is happening to this country?

About 40 years ago…when I was a couple of years old, apparently, I liked to take my clothes off and play in my birthday suit outdoors. A neighbor called the police reporting indecent exposure. When the police arrived at the door they didn’t receive my mother’s responding laugh very well. She said, “Would you like to meet her?” They, of course, demanded to see me, and they weren’t very nice about it.

As the story goes, they turned several shades of red and apologized profusely for bothering my mother when I came toddling around the corner. They were appalled that the neighbor had made such a claim.

Stupidity is taking over this nation like a bad infection.

Voice of Reason

September 24th, 2012
8:20 am

After getting out of jail and being cleared of all charges, I would spend the next three years doing the following:

(1) Set fire to my neighbor’s lawn so that only my neighbor was effected and no way to get linked back to me.
(2) Leave anonymous bags filled with dog poop in my neighbor’s mailbox.
(4) Repeatedly make anonymous phone calls to the police to report that my neighbors are running a meth lab in their basement.
(4) Sit giggling like a school-girl on the front lawn drinking Vodka tonics watching my neighbor move out of their house because it was condemned due to the dangerous mold I had been secretly growing in their basement.

You don’t pull that nanny-state BS with me. I will bury you.

mom2alex&max

September 24th, 2012
8:21 am

Good grief, WTF.

Voice of Reason

September 24th, 2012
8:21 am

*First (4) should be (3)

RJ

September 24th, 2012
8:21 am

What is the world coming to? My kids played outside at this age all of the time. And I wasn’t always sitting outside watching them. What an idiot cop! We have become a sad society when we report kids playing outside. What’s next?

If it is a Texas story...

September 24th, 2012
8:30 am

…then why is a San Francisco newspaper reporting it?

homeschooler

September 24th, 2012
8:38 am

This whole story makes no sense. How did the police get justification for this warrant? Also, she was arrested on child endangerment but the police dept.’s statement mentioned “abandonment”. Abandonment? That is a more serious charge than child endangerment. I would love to have the inside scoop on this. I know that the charges were dropped but I feel sure that there was more to the original situation. Obviously she should not have been arrested but I don’t feel confident just jumping up and blaming the officer. Officers don’t just get warrants, they have to go through procedures to get them approved. No way does a uniform officer just respond to a call like this, warrant in hand, and arrest someone.
btw..I have no problem with children 6 and 9 playing outside unsupervised as long as Mom is checking on them every few minutes.

Mayhem

September 24th, 2012
8:44 am

VOR – Can I come sit on that porch with you? I’ll bring the Vodka…..

Jeff

September 24th, 2012
8:58 am

Seems like we have some mixed signals going on. Everyone wants to say “someone should have said something” when something goes wrong. Yet we also want to say “the parent (mom) shold have complete autonomy on her decisions”.

Let me know when you make up your mind.

Jerry Sandusky

September 24th, 2012
8:59 am

I’ll watch your kids!

Emory

September 24th, 2012
9:06 am

When did it become illegal to let your kids play outside?

The cop should lose his job for being an idiot.

TechRon

September 24th, 2012
9:30 am

She should be suing. Definitely. She did nothing wrong. Those kids are old enough to play outside! That is her call as to whether they can go out and play. Now if they were out playing with a machete and she knew about it and did nothing, that is child endangerment. When I was 6 years old, every kid in the neighborhood went out after school every day and we played where ever we wanted. Often we would go in the woods and play all day long on Saturday. Should my Mom have been arrested? No way. Kids can play outside. Is there a law against this? If not, the cops should be sued.

It seems to me that most are missing the point...

September 24th, 2012
10:00 am

…it wasn’t that the kids were playing “outside”, it is that they were playing, seemingly unsupervised, IN THE STREET – “…woman was arrested for child endangerment because she let her children ride scooters out front of her house”…

I realize that this is an assumption on my part, yet I figure you ride scooters in the street, especially at ages 6-9…

Obviously, TechRon is an Obama dumocrat...

September 24th, 2012
10:01 am

…sue, sue, sue – we will call him Johnny Cash, since he is a “Boy Named Sue”…

It seems to me that most are missing the point...

September 24th, 2012
10:03 am

…and, no, I did not watch the vfideo, so if it tells that the kids were not in the street, then, MY bad…

Cynic

September 24th, 2012
10:36 am

Welcome to police state Amerika. First we had the nanny state, then the “my brother’s keeper” state, then the busy-body state, then the Big Brother state and now the full-on police state.

All of you who have ever said “there should be a law” or “someone should do something” or have blindling allowed the government to pass laws with no common sense are all to blame for what this nation has become.

We no longer respect private property, we no longer respect parental rights, we no longer wish to face the reality that LIFE IS DANGEROUS and there is not a damn thing you can do to prevent ALL tragedies.

Try minding you own business. If you do just that, you will have more than enough to keep yourself busy.

Cynic

September 24th, 2012
10:39 am

And correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t a house at the end of a cul-de-sac supposed to be great for kids for something??? If it isn’t being able to play in the street, what the hell is it good for?

Seatbelts, helmets, zero tollerance, zero intelligence. You have turned this society into one populated by those who are chronically afraid and children who are too tame to take any risks, stand up for themselves, innovate, be creative, etc. Congratulations. This is how empires and cultures DIE.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 24th, 2012
10:51 am

Answering a couple of questions from above: The story ran in SF even though it happened in Texas because the SF paper has a very active mom blog. I pulled the original footage from the local Texas station so you could see the actual report and decide for yourself.

oneofeach4me

September 24th, 2012
10:59 am

Oh man. I would be in SERIOUS trouble. I live in a cul-de-sac and my kids, ages 11 and 7 play outside ALL the time while I cook dinner. Mind you I can see them from the kitchen window, and I do peek out on them every once in a while, but I am a working mom and it’s either they play outside while I cook inside, or one of those things will have to be nixed.

Peculiarly, what I have found is that not all people who live in family oriented neighborhoods actually like kids. I don’t get it. We drove through our neighborhood on a Saturday in the middle of the day and right after school just to make sure there were kids for our kids to play with before we moved to our house. In addition, houses in subdivisions tend to cost a bit more than those on a lone street (not to mention HOA’s and those fees). These people had to know before they moved in that there are kids in every other house!! Kids from up the street ride their bikes/scooters/skateboards down our street all the time and you know what, I don’t complain or call the police. I look out for them, as a GOOD neighbor would!!!

camille

September 24th, 2012
11:20 am

I thought most of us complained that the kids AREN’T outside playing enough and these kids were doing what kids do.. and the mother was sitting right outside.. The police and the DA’s office should be ashamed.

Native Atlantan

September 24th, 2012
11:31 am

This is beyond lame. Growing up in our small neighborhood you couldn’t tell which kids belonged to which parents. All of the parents treated us like their own children — including a good dose of discipline if needed. The best memory I have of my father is with some toddler slung on his hip…I asked him who the kid was…he laughed and said he had no idea.

Playing outside…in the woods or even in the street was a common as sunshine on a summer day. Wow…is this really the society we’ve become.

xxx

September 24th, 2012
11:56 am

This is what happens when a bunch of nosy SOBs can’t mind their own business. Take all you can, give nothing back.

Cynic

September 24th, 2012
12:23 pm

These neighbors should be condemned, this police officer and everyone else who was complicit in the “justice” system should be condemned, but everyone in society needs to look inward and ask yourself what your person attitude is about laws/penalties/requirements that you support that take freedom away from another.

Do you support allowing someone to put whatever into their body they wish, so long as they are personally responsible for their actions? Including raw milk? Including currently “illegal” drugs? Including other natural supplements? Do you support allowing someone to do with their own body what they wish so long as they do not infringe upon your rights/property/person?

Do you believe the government should be able to take away other’s rights so long as it doesn’t personally impact you (this time)? Do you believe that the government should be allowed to tell parents what they must feed their children for lunch (another well-publicized story)? Do you believe that it is ok for the government to take from others the fruits of their labor or even their property (if they do not pay) in order to give to others the government feels are “entitled?”

We are at a crossroads in our western civilization. The nation that once called itself “free” is being hit from both sides of the so-called political “aisle” with regulations, laws, restrictions, and penalties that all take away either money, property, or freedom from individuals all because the bulk of society is looking the other way and not caring about these violations.

Yesterday it was seatbelts, then it was car seats, then it was more car seats for older kids, then it was mandatory helmets for motorcycles and bicycles, then it was airbags, then your children were forced to the back seat where you never see them and even forget them, now it is police arresting parents for allowing their children to be children.

We either say enough is enough, or this slid will continue. We all know how it was when we were children and we all survived and even thrived. Now we know that kids don’t play outside, they are mostly fat, they are mostly on some sort of mind-altering drug (either prescribed or by their choice), and we know that our society is heading in a downware spiral at astronomical rates.

Only WE are to blame for that. We must STOP being our brother’s keeper and start realizing that the folks that promote these laws generally have a financial interst in the outcome, not a personal concern for our safety. And even if safety is the primary driver, education is far superior to laws and jail. It always has been and always will be. When freedom is gone, we will never get it back. Even the history of this once-great nation proves that.

jarvis

September 24th, 2012
12:28 pm

Don’t worry, just like OJ, she’ll have her day in court to prove her innocence.

FCM

September 24th, 2012
12:39 pm

@ Cynic….subtract the fantic of your post and I will agree with you. It is not just personally responsible…it is to the point it infringes on the rights of others.

@ Jeff…as always right there with ya!

@jarvis…yep. However how does one prove she was or was not outside with the kids? Something doesn’t add for me…if I say I saw my neighbor running around nekkid do the cops arrest him/her when they get there and she is dressed? I mean assuming i did not video it all.

Cynic

September 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

FCM – sounds like you are drawing a distinction that is the open door the government is always looking for. What rights of other? The right not to be offended, the right not to be emotionally bothered, the right to feel somehow “safe” even though nothing is going on?? Be careful with your wording. So long as you do to your body or your property whatever you want and do not violate the person or property of another, you should be able to do what you wish. Period. Until we respect that limit and impose that limit on government, there will be non-stop occurrences just like this one.

jarvis

September 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

@FCM, I’m going to assume you knew my whole comment was tongue and cheek and you’re just playing along. :-)

BessBear

September 24th, 2012
4:25 pm

Seems like I’m reading stories like this everyday. Unfortunately, the parents who are keeping their kids inside are building the fear, and making it very hard for other kids to find playmates to be outside with. And parents wonder why kids are obese and having adult health problems. Organized sports are good for some things, but we need to let kids have free-play time. Wake-up!! Parents need to get their kids outside playing more. Free-play is so important to build creativity in children.

Dadad

September 24th, 2012
4:27 pm

Bring back militias! Those neighbors need to be flogged!

Jarred Schenke

September 24th, 2012
4:44 pm

Wait a second: The kids weren’t toddlers or even like four or five? They were the same age I was when, as a boy, I was aloud to roam around — alone and unsupervised — through my entire neighborhood (and back when Georgia was just booming in the 70s and 80s, they were huge) in the woods by myself, down sewer manholes (boys just did that)…and if this were to happen in Texas today, my parents would be imprisoned and lose all parental rights. This is sick and a shock happening in a relatively conservative state like Texas. I’d expect this lunacy in California or Chicago.

Jarred Schenke

September 24th, 2012
4:45 pm

Dang it. Misspelled *allowed

Tiffany

September 24th, 2012
5:30 pm

Even if the street was a busy one it seems like the cop should have given the mom a warning for safety reasons…not have had her locked up. This is total BS! I really don’t understand the logic here.

FCM

September 24th, 2012
7:27 pm

@ cynic,….nope “Be careful with your wording. So long as you do to your body or your property whatever you want and do not violate the person or property of another, you should be able to do what you wish.” is exactly what I meant….when you deprive some of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness then infringe on their unalineable rights. So I said exactly what I meant with no desire for govt to interfer.

FCM

September 24th, 2012
7:29 pm

@ jarvis, sort of …..I really do wonder how they could lock her up without some sort of way to know she was not actually outside…or whatever.

Matthew

September 24th, 2012
7:41 pm

Out by the Pond

“When I first heard this story I thought it was a gag or put on. I know that Texas tends to be knee jet reactionaries but REALLY?”

Really? knee jet (sic) reactionaries? I lived in San Francisco for 20 years and saw far more knee jerk reactionaries in San Francisco than I have here in Texas.

DB

September 24th, 2012
7:46 pm

Well, to get technical: Mrs. Cooper does not live IN a cul-de-sac, so it’s not as though the kids were playing around in the rounded end of the street.. She lives 7 doors down from the cul-de-sac. The neighbor actually lives two doors closer to the cul-de-sac, but neither one of them actually live IN the cul-de-sac. So if the kids were in front of the house, they weren’t in the cul-de-sac, they were in the street.

Picky, picky (amazing what you can find with WhitePages.com). Anyway, I bet I can predict exactly what happened. Older neighbor (approx 45-49) came home, had to slow down for kids in the street (probably not for the first time), and didn’t notice mom sitting in the front yard. She drove to her house, went inside, and, pissed off, called the police.

The case has been thrown out, so it’s a moot point now. But oh, yeah, the counter-suit is going to be a circus!

Have A Smile! ☺☻

September 25th, 2012
9:08 am

Sounds like once again another busy-body neighbor. Very cowardly, too. How hard is it to go over to the neighbors house and knock on the door?

You don’t pull that nanny-state BS with me. I will bury you.

I tip my hat to you, sir. :) Same here. Anyone who does that to me will pay several times over.

Lisa

September 25th, 2012
11:56 am

For the love of all that’s holy! Take the bubble wrap off the kids and let them play. When I was 9 years old I went to the swimming pool by myself.

Cynic

September 25th, 2012
1:50 pm

FCM – fair enough. Just wanted to be clear on the distinction as far too many people take the meaning of “rights” WAY beyond what it should be. Glad to see you are on the right side of liberty and freedom.

Cynic

September 25th, 2012
1:53 pm

DB – The case has been thrown out, so it’s a moot point now.

Yes, but you get arrested, fingerprinted, DNA swabbed, and who knows what else and you tell me if its still a mute point. Sadly any lawsuit against the police will just be settled with more money stolen from the taxpayers as the police office will be given immunity from any prosecution I am sure (along with the DA and everyone else involved on the government side).

Cynic

September 25th, 2012
1:54 pm

Sorry, moot point.

Police State

September 25th, 2012
2:14 pm

I grew up in La Porte Texas and as an elementary kid rode my bike all over the place. As long as I was home before the street lights came on I was okay. Now this?! Really!! I have an 8 year old. Does this mean I shouldn’t let him out of my sight in fear of being accused of child endangerment?

Teressa

September 25th, 2012
2:14 pm

Communisum What the world r we coming to.The Officals need to worry more about the noisy neighbor paying to much attention to the neighbors kids.Children have no chance to be kids.its bad when they rush a childs life,and it bothers me to no end that there r people in this country who hate kids that much…….This woman should be arrested and her and the Officer should be forced to pay restitution.I had a neighbor who threatened the life of my children and they would not even arrest the man that came in my yard and said he would kill my children so I bought a camera and caught this creep cursing my husband as he walk be needless to say I took it to the city manager and told him he better do something with the officers or I was sueing the city.Never had a problem after that.

futuretruth

September 25th, 2012
8:40 pm

All police are bad…trained to be that way, too.

[...] you read that right. Tammy Cooper was arrested last week and thrown into jail because her two kids, ages 6 and 9, were playing outside. The youngsters [...]

Kay

September 27th, 2012
1:11 pm

Your not telling anything I dont know ! When my son got in trouble once they (the cops) had him outside and then tried to search my home with out a warrant I said no because I was so upset so they threw me on the floor kicked me,used their taser three times on my neck and in the kidneys threw me in jail for 18 hours then tried to charge me with his crimes which were dropped but they still charged me with obstruction and pay a fine just because I said No to them! oh yeah they were SHERIFFS ! They have a license to do what ever they want to who ever they please when ever they please!