Police officers are NOT your friends

"From frolicking kids to murder suspects: How?" (title is from our local newspaper but the link is to Canadian site where no registration is needed) points out the problem of public police: they are accountable only to themselves (i.e., the state: to their boss and up the hierarchy and may be even to the tax collectors but certainly not to the tax paying public). Here's the summary of the case:
  1. In 1998, Ryan Harris, 11 year old girl in Chicago was found dead.
  2. Earlier, two boys, 7 and 8, saw her enter a car with two men.
  3. Each boy went to the police station separately without parents (or guardians) nor lawyers.
  4. 7 year old apparently confessed that he threw a rock at her and both boys dragged Ryan into woods.
  5. 8 year old (he thought he was going to see a police lineup) was confronted with forensic photos and were yelled at if he did the killing.
  6. [no recordings were made: how convenient]
  7. Detectives Cassidy and Nathaniel "cracked" the case by getting forced confessions from the two boys -- there were lots of public pressure to solve the case, so they came out looking like heroes
  8. Boys were in the national spotlight for being the youngest murder suspects!
  9. Month later, they found semen and the DNA led to a convicted sex offender Floyd Durr and they dropped charges on the boys.
The consequences of all this?
  1. The two boys are scarred for life: both need a lot of psychological care and one of the parents ended up in divorce. (That is, one broken home + potentially two future broken homes)
  2. Police department settled two lawsuits totaling $8.2 million dollars + lawyer fees (yes, those numbers are our "tax dollars at work").
  3. The two detectives were never disciplined (even though Cassidy had prior example(s?) of coercing confessions out of young suspect(s)).
The only winners in this sordid ordeal, other than the two detectives who weren't punished, are the lawyers.

So, you can never start too early to warn your children to be very careful around any strangers, including (or especially) the police officers.