Monday, August 23, 2010

Fatherly advice

Would it surprise you to learn that a few tickets for minor in possession of alcohol were issued over the course of the last weekend before the start of classes at our colleges and universities?  Friday, I received an email from the father of a 19 year old UNL sophomore who got one of those tickets, in the wee hours that same day.  His son was a victim of circumstances.  He had been called by his friends, who needed a sober driver to come pick them up at a party and take them home. It was the friends who had the beer.  His son hadn’t even been drinking.  He was an innocent bystander trying to be a good Samaritan.  What’s more, something quite similar happened to him when he received another MIP citation a couple of years ago in his own home town.  The local police wouldn’t listen to him then, either. 

Right. 

Here’s my response:

“After your email was routed to me, I read the reports. Your son's account is wildly different than the events reflected in the officers' reports. The difference is far greater than could be explained by a different angle, viewpoint, or perception. Ultimately, when the facts are in dispute, these cases are decided in court, but the version your son provided is so vastly different, I think something else may be going on here. I'm a father, too, and I hope you will allow me to give you my advice as a father. I think you have two choices: forget about the discrepancy, accept the fact that your son might be trying to save face with his dad, and help him deal with the consequences. Alternatively, you could ask him again. If you chose to do that, first let him know that you have spoken to the chief of police. He might--and I stress might--be a little more forthcoming. Sometimes, however, when you've told a tall tale, you are so committed to it that instead of acknowledging that it might not have happened quite the way you said, you continue to embellish the whopper and dig yourself into an even deeper ethical hole.

I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss the details, but he's an adult, and your son probably ought to be the one who decides whether he wants that to happen or not. You know him well, but I would just ask you to remember that we all tend to tell things in a way that makes us appear a little less culpable when we have done something regrettable. Personally, I'd give him the space to do so, rather than insist on getting the bottom of the story. But if you and he want to do so, we can hash this out. I can't think of any reason at all it would be beneficial in any way for the officer to recount a completely inaccurate version of the events. If she did so, it would not be at the risk of her Dad being disappointed, rather it would be at the risk of her job as a Lincoln police officer, and her career in law enforcement.  I think it is far more likely that your son is painting a picture of the events calculated to explain how he received the ticket without admitting to some conduct he knows would be terribly disappointing to his parents. Even good people do dumb things.

Think back to your own youth, and recall some occasion when you failed live up to your parents expectations. Did you ever stretch things, deflect some of the blame elsewhere, omit a few pertinent details, or anything of the sort?

Regards,
Tom Casady, Chief of Police”

I realize this is a little long winded, but it still might  be good for all parents of teens and young adults to read this and save it for future reference, particularly if you are about to tell the chief of police that your son or daughter did nothing wrong, and would never lie to his parents.  Add it to my other parental advice.

24 comments:

Dave said...

I remember Marty Ortiz taking me home one night to my parents. I was out in a snowstorm, without a coat and barefoot. Yeah, drugs and booze were involved, how did you guess?

It was pretty hard to tell my folks a story with Marty standing right there.

Anonymous said...

There was a sitcom which had scenes once in a while, wherein someone would relate a story to their friends, but in parallel, they would show how the event really happened. The person's account of the event was always skewed to make them look better (smarter, wiser, more defiant, more innocent, more whatever) than the sorry truth.

JIM J said...

So a sober driver drives his drunk "friends" so the drunk will not drive? Good idea. But this train is on the way, and no stopping it now.
Having drunk "friends" in the car at 2 A.M, NOT a good idea.
If a person abuses alcohol, motor funtion is impaired. Cognitive function is the next to go, and often loss of a drivers license soon follows.
We all know this.
As for a parent protecting a UNL student from future disaster, you have to let the train stop as the laws of physics take over. The parent is attempting what all parents do, enable the self destructive life of alcohol use.
Birds of a feather flock......
UNL is a culture of bars on the weekends. LPD people have to be in the mix, and so goes the old recipe:
Instant idiot, just add alcohol!

Very good parenting advice today here on the Chief's Corner.

Anonymous said...

At least the aliens from the UFO that put the beer in the car without the kid's knowledge didn't abduct them.

I'm sure the parents are grateful.

256

Anonymous said...

It was other kids or something.

-Beavis

Anonymous said...

I never had a taste of alcohol until after I started college. However during High School one of my weekly activities was collecting empty beer bottles. At that time most beer bottles could be returned for a $.02 per bottle deposit. This money was one of my sources for gas and financed dates on Saturday night. At times my car smelled like a brewery because there was enough beer left in the empties to stink up the car. If I would have been pulled over by a police officer with all those empties in the car explaining their presence might have been very interesting.

Gun Nut

Steve said...

Some kids might be trying to pull a fast one by saying they are the designated driver (when maybe they are just the least drunk of the group); however, I see nothing wrong with the idea of a sober friend driving. I know my kids and their friends routinely do this when they go out for a little celebrating. Would it be better if the sober friends refused to drive their drinking buddies home because it's "not a good idea," according to JimJ? Those kids are going to drive themselves, drunk or not, if someone else doesn't offer to help. Maybe my kids and their friends are an exception, but I think they are more mature about this than my friends and I were at their age. We were too macho to admit we were too drunk to drive safely. I was stopped once by an alert officer and learned my lesson before I got into more serious trouble. I had a non-drinking friend riding in the passenger seat at the time. Does anyone seriously think it would not have been better to let him drive?

Anonymous said...

Chief,

Did the "sober" driver get a PBT?

Tom Casady said...

Steve-

The point is that the entire story he told his Dad was completely bogus from beginning to end. He made it up because he knew he'd have to explain how he ended up with an MIP. He concocted a tall tale that made him look like some kind of martyr. He never stopped to think that his Dad might go to bat for him by emailing the police chief--and in the process, discover the "rest of the story."

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Touching. I only got to see my father on special occasions, like Halloween.

JIM J said...

Steve: I was hoping my point would get through, but my lack of writing skills show sometimes.
I wanted to promote that it is a better idea that our kids chooses sober friends and much of the related alcohol issues vanish like magic.
Is the use of alcohol so large that our kids can not find sobe and clean associates?

P.S Chief I sent you an Email about a traffic stop last night, once again good job! Only thing is, the driver was a three time felon and only one officer for the stop.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post (and advice), chief!
I've been trying to teach my 5 year old about the benefits of telling the truth…

"Don't lie. You'll never have to remember what you told so-and-so, you'll only need to remember the truth, which is much easier".

Grundle King said...

I'm gonna throw my age in here as a qualifier for my following statements. I am 29 years old...so 'back in the day' for me wasn't that long ago, but it was awhile ago.

To me, this type of attitude is becoming far too prevalent as of late. It seems like there was once a time when parents, rather than embarking on witchhunts against figures of authority (teachers, police, etc.), would mete out more punishment than the system ever could. As a high school student, I was always much more worried about what would happen when mom and dad found out...whatever the school or legal system could dish out would seem like a cakewalk in comparison.

Anymore though, it seems like a lot of parents have this attitude that their kids are these perfect little angels that can do no wrong, and rather than challenge that notion, they decide to challenge the people who have actually sought to punish their angels.

When little Johnny comes home with an 'F' on his math homework, it couldn't possibly be due to him goofing off in class...no, clearly the problem is poor teaching skills. Naturally, the solution is to demand a meeting with the teacher, the principal, and the superintendent so the parent can make them see how perfect their child is!

And like the situation described in this blog entry, little Johnny would NEVER drink while underage...he was just helping a friend by holding the open beverage before retrieving his Bible to lead a group prayer.

Chief, I do not envy you. :)

62-and-still-learning said...

Sometimes it doesn't hurt to state the obvious. If a minor is a legit 0.00% BAC designated driver, he or she should be very sure no passengers are in possession. And that goes at least double for holding other illegal substances. Discussing such things is fundamental to being a good parent. Even quite good young adults may not figure these issues out for themselves before the wrong opportunity arrises.
Life is not like school. First you get the test, then you get the lesson.

Anonymous said...

Hear him, hear him! Thanks Chief. Nice post!!! More parents need to learn this tactic from their "perfect little angels."

Anonymous said...

Chief write:
Think back to your own youth, and recall some occasion when you failed live up to your "parents" expectations..

Note, Some kids have one parent.
Often, as a single parent child, I was asked by a teacher if i was the oldest and only.
How degrading. In a one parent world these days, we should avoid the isolation of assumption.

Steve said...

Chief:

I understand the case in point was hardly a legitimate case of a designated driver getting unfair treatment. I just wanted to make the point that kids having a real designated driver is a good thing. Now if people have moral objections to social drinking, then I could see why they would think otherwise (sort of an aiding and abetting thing). I certainly don't condone the bar crawls, keggers, and binge drinking that so many young folks engage in these days. However, responsible social drinking is well within the limits of my moral boundaries. Naming a designated driver shows at least some degree of responsibility.

Steve said...

7:37

Not sure of your point or how you were degraded. I think everyone has two parents, even if they don't both live with you. The chief's "assumption" is valid, and I don't see how it is degrading.

Teachers often asked kids about being the oldest and only if for no other reason than to keep from duplicating correspondence sent home to parents via the students. I'm not sure how that would be degrading either.

Anonymous said...

Responsible underage social drinking? How's that again? I also didn't see where the Chief stated that designated drivers weren't a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Steve Says: I'm not sure how that would be degrading either.

Several Psych studies of this have been done by leading shrinks. And that is why the teachers no longer do this. also, Chief was not degrading, and it was not taken as so. Just overlooking some minor issue has little impact, much like letting a small racial comment go unchecked.

If you have never seen the color blue, how can someone explain it to you? That is why you do not have any idea.

Steve said...

12:36

The Chief didn't say designated drivers were bad, JimJ alluded to that and then clarified his statements, and I understand his point. I never said anything about underage drinking. My point was concerning designated drivers.

3:25

Just because someone isn't in the same situation as you, it doesn't mean they can't understand something you've experienced. Perhaps you could explain it rather than making an analogy that seems somewhat degrading to me in its own right.

rangerfan66 said...

Your letter was very forthcoming and forceful enough to perhaps make the father think. It shows that you are a good man and leader who not only cares about enforcement of the law, but about people as well. You are dead on Chief Cassidy.

With utmost respect,
Perry K.

Anonymous said...

3:25-
what do you mean "teachers no longer do this" (meaning the "oldest and only" thing)? I am a teacher and yes, we do "still do it". Paperwork goes home with the oldest and only student.

What is degrading about it, and what "studies" are you citing?

GertieGirlLibrarian said...

I always thought I was a good, smart parent. My daughter told me she got a MIP when she was just cleaning out a friend's apartment after a party. They were just dumping the cans. I believed her for a while, then "smartened" up. Kids are smart, parents want to believe them. It is best to listen skeptically. I learned. She learned. She paid her dues. (I am a bit behind on my blog reading)