Garfield - the Police Report

I did finally manage to get the narrative police report on Garfield (missing a page and I'm going to request some other items as well).

Just by way of explaining my coming criticism, I did a 6-month stint as a volunteer investigator for the Public Defender's office (I've been around) and I had the opportunity to read a lot of police reports and interview many police officers.  I learned a lot and naturally, the first thing to always state is that the only thing between us and the bad guys are cops so we have to be grateful for their presence.  (And, everyone is always happy to see firefighters but hardly ever the cops.  It's a tough, tough job.)

This is not a great narrative, you can't follow exactly where the action is at any given point, very loosey-goosey and I suspect that there is a better one out there somewhere.

Basically, the officer says that he was told, by the victims (so there are kids who were willing to talk), that they were sitting at lunch on Friday, Sep. 27th at GHS and one of the suspects came to them and asked if they had been "claimed" for froshing.

After school, they were met by suspects (no number of suspects given) and escorted to a van.  They went to a private residence, where they were asked trivia questions about GHS.  If they didn't get the answers right, they were either to get paddled, had to drink a shot of "hard liquor" or get hot sauce in their mouths.  Apparently, they got the questions right but were then told another game was to start.

But, it didn't happen as one suspect said, "it is about to begin."  They got back in the van, went to the Arboretum and saw about 100 other kids.  There were kegs that they assumed had beer in them.

One victim said that they had been paddled and "forced to drink shots of hard liquor until one of them was very intoxicated."  A couple of students were paddled several times.  One suspect stopped the paddling saying that one student had been paddled enough.

When the officer and Principal Howard arrived, along with officers from Second watch, students ran in various directions, "refusing to stop when ordered to do so."  There was evidence of drinking and froshing left at the scene.  At that time, no victims came forward.

That's it.

So some students had different experiences and there may have just been one private residence incident or multiple places.  Parents might want to check their liquor cabinets.

Other police reports generally say things like "I observed X, Y and Z happening" but there is no such detail here.  As well, I don't know what the "evidence of froshing is" - you could assume diapers, hot sauce, paddles, etc.

I would also point out that one thing cops hate - almost more than anything - are runners.  Please go to the ACLU website and explain to your children how to react if they encounter police officers.  Number one - don't run.  It makes them very, very mad and it will not be good if they catch you.

I know many parents who think their child could NEVER get into trouble.  Do you let your teen out at all?

Then, there can always be the occasion when a police encounter can happen.  Wrong place, wrong time and your teen does not know what to do or say.  It happens.

Basically, here's what to do.

Say nothing, ask for a lawyer and ask to call your parents.  Don't explain, don't blame, just stay silent and wait for your parents.  Your child could be absolutely innocent but end up in trouble trying to explain what might be unexplainable (meaning, your child has no clue what is going on but may be trying to protect his/herself or others.) 

Tell your child to remain calm, be cooperative but stay silent, no matter what.


Anonymous said…
Hey, OT but I also did a stint with the Public Defender as an investigator -- internship through the UW? :D

~Garfield Mom
Eric B said…
There was a letter to the editor in the Times this morning from a Garfield student. It basically says that the media is only reporting one side of the story, that froshing is very rarely like what has been portrayed, and that they had a great time.
No, I just volunteered from an ad I saw. It's was tremendously interesting work and you learn a lot.

Eric, I'm absolutely sure that some do have an "enjoyable" time and no one intimidates or scares them. Clearly, that's not the case for all and there are some students who take it too far. Since that seems to be unchecked, the entire practice needs to end.

There are many good ways to build community (if that truly is the goal) than hazing.
Eric B said…
Melissa, I absolutely agree. I just thought it showed how much work the Garfield community is going to have to do to stamp out the problem behaviors.
dw said…
Melissa said: I'm absolutely sure that some do have an "enjoyable" time and no one intimidates or scares them. Clearly, that's not the case for all and there are some students who take it too far. Since that seems to be unchecked, the entire practice needs to end.

I totally agree, it's a very slippery slope. It appears that <a href="> even the students themselves can change their mind</a> about whether it was a good idea. They just need to get away from the immediate situation.

Perhaps this article should be required reading for all Garfield kids. It's not all hugs and puppies, even immediately afterwards. The older kids may "take you in" in some ways, but they all have images of you being a complete fool as well.
DW, your comment made me realize something else.

In our day, the only people who saw the hazing were those in attendance. There may have been a random photo here or there.

But now? I'm sure that nearly every student who was there is likely to have taken some kind of photo or video especially the upper-classmen. That's perfect blackmail material to NOT cooperate with the police or the administration. It's also out there so that others can see what went on.

I wonder if the police or administration confiscated any phones.

We live in a time where events can go on long after the actual event ends.
Eric B said…
DW and Melissa, that article brings up a really good point. If freshmen can receive the same punishment that the upperclassmen receive, then the culture of silence is perpetuated.

While I don't know that freshmen should get off completely scot free, it does seem like the consequences should be far less, especially if they come forward on their own. Something short term that doesn't go on the official transcript would be more appropriate. That wouldn't eliminate bullying in retribution, but it might help improve reporting.
Anonymous said…
Our son was froshed last year. It was with our knowledge, so label me one of the "idiot" parents.

Going into it we had lengthy discussions about what was likely to go on, and we were very firm about what was completely unacceptable (no getting into a car with upperclassmen and going somewhere, no drinking, no smoking and you have to be willing to say "no). He did say "no" to certain things (being paddled, drinking), but he allowed others including having eggs thrown at him and boxing. In hindsight, we shouldn't have allowed it and our discussions afterwards included a "that was a bad parent day for us" with our teen.

Our son is older for his grade and a bigger, athletic kid so I can see that him being able to say no and being comfortable with that could be a result of his physical size. I can also see how some kids wouldn't say no because they were afraid of the repercussions.

The learning certainly is to talk through these situations with your kids, but also realize that you are the adult and even if they want to do something obviously it doesn't mean that it is a good idea.

To future GHS parents, pick up your kids (or require them to come straight home) on Homecoming. Arrange for them to get together with a group of kids after school and celebrate in a supervised environment. Take them to the football game. Keep them away from the party culture - it has completely gotten out of hand.

There is certainly is a contingent of kids that can't think of anything else to do than to get together and drink alcohol and smoke pot every weekend. That is what the majority of these 100 kids were doing -- the hazing was a part of that - but not the primary reason for the gathering.

The adults need to expect more from their kids, instead of having the attitude "they are teenagers, and that's what teenagers do".

The drinking and the smoking are far bigger problems on an ongoing basis than the hazing.

-GHS Parent
GHS Parent, thanks for that perspective (and we ALL have a bad parent day or even days).

You are absolutely right - drinking and smoking/drugs at every single high school - is far more important than hazing.
Anonymous said…
Melissa: You made an excellent point about the ability to share photos/video through a variety of media in this brave new world. Short-lived indiscretions can now follow a person throughout their lifetime, no matter how embarrassing or discrediting with the power of image. A picture is worth a million words.

As parents, we need to keep a constant conversation going about what is and is not appropriate to post/email/tweet, etc. Every kid will do something stupid as they forge ahead into adulthood—at least we can try to keep them from announcing that stupidity to the world.

Crownhill said…
I too think that's a really important point to make with your kids - the longevity of what they say/post/do on the internet. I've tried to get my kid to understand that things aren't as "private" as you might believe. Guess until something truly negatively impacts her personally it's more Charlie Brown's teacher going blah blah blah ;)
Crownhill, and the beauty of it now is that it is NOT just blah, blah, blah.

There are numerous stories, photos, etc. of the very bad outcomes from bad choices caught in photo/videos.

Of course, kids being kids, they always believe it will be someone else.
Anonymous said…
Obviously the perps who ran from the police were privileged white kids. ;-) Most minority kids are taught that running from the police can be deadly. In the interest of equality, why weren't the white kids chased and hunted down with dogs and tasers? Equality and justice for all! Not happening!

Garfield Mom
Anonymous said…
During a required course for teacher recertification, we discussed something I had never considered while raising three teenagers. It takes about 20 minutes for alcohol to take effect. Passing out is a defense mechanism to keep us from continuing to consume something that is harmful to us. At the point someone passes out, they already have more alcohol in their system than they can handle. However, they possibly could have 20 minutes worth of alcohol consumption that has not even hit their system yet. The point the instructor made was that it is an emergency situation whenever someone passes out from alcohol-especially if they were still consuming up to the point they passed out. I wonder how many teens who play drinking games know or think about this. I never knew as a parent and never talked about this with my own kids. This is what scares me so much when I hear about the drinking games associated with hazing.

Mercermom said…
I agree that the voluntariness of it can be a slipperly slope. Our child happily participated last year, but I suspect that kids may "volunteer" to be froshed by some kids to avoid being available to others. I am planning to take the position that the school leadership has decided tis is unacceptable, and they will likely make examples out of any perpetrators. We as parents cannot let our child participate in something when we know it could lead to negative reports to colleges, arrests, etc.

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