by Emily Waldrep
On June 11, Officer Sheffield of the Woodville Police Department was contacted by a investigator with the Child Protective Services Office about a report that had been called in to their agency regarding a neglectful child supervision case.
According to Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department, the CPS case worker met with Officer Sheffield and went to the location on the 700th Block of North Beech Street at the apartment complex located there. The report stated that three children, ages 3, 5 and 7, had been left alone in one of the apartments for an extended amount of time.
The children's aunt met officers at the door and stated that she knew why they were there and that her three nieces were next door.
The officers and investigators met with the children and determined they had been there for several hours without any adult supervision. The aunt stated that she was supposed to be watching them but she had fallen asleep.
The children's mother was contacted at work and met the officers at the scene and confirmed that she had left her children there because she didn't have time to bring them to daycare that day because she was late to work.
Shortly after interviewing the three children, it was confirmed that the aunt was not supervising them and that they were there by themselves.
The officers arrested the mother, Latoya McBride, age 26, of Woodville, on the scene for endangering a child and also discovered that she had several outstanding warrants for unpaid traffic offenses in court.
McBride was charged with Endangering a Child Without Intent to Return, which is a third degree felony.
"There is no written rule stating how old children have to be to take care of themselves, but there is responsibility that parents have to take if they leave their children home alone for any amount of time," McCulley said. "The child has to have enough presence of mind to call someone and have a way to contact someone, either by phone of by a relative. There also has to be a reasonable belief that the parent is coming home in a reasonable amount of time. "In this situation, the parent did not say she was going to return and the person that was supposed to be watching them wasn't watching them either. In this particular instance, the officer felt that these children were abandoned and placed in danger because of the close proximity of the apartment to the main street, the door was not secured and anyone could have entered or exited. One might argue that because there was an aunt across the hall and she could have been there if something happened, but if she was asleep, how could she have been there? Those scenarios were thought about and that's why the officers decided it was necessary to make the arrest."