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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

November 10, 2004
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Wisc. Supreme Court Weighs Police Contact With Children

By Jason Allen, WBAY TV News (Green Bay, Wisc.)

If your son or daughter got in trouble with the law, who should talk to them first? That's an issue Wisconsin's Supreme Court is deciding right now.

If it were your child picked up by police, taken in for questioning, should you get to talk to them first? That's the question before the seven Supreme Court justices.

The question comes from the case of a 14-year-old boy held for seven hours, not allowed to talk to his parents, finally confessing to an armed robbery -- something he later called a "lie."

Ashwaubenon public safety officer Don Penza says by law he doesn't have to treat kids differently than adults.

"I think we need to make the point that it's not always in the best interest to have a parent present," Penza said.

Sometimes, he said, kids can stay out of a courtroom by talking to police -- not parents -- first.

"Sometimes these things, 'Hey, if you'll talk to me, maybe we can handle them,' not in a police way," Penza said.

Kids don't always need someone to intervene for them with police, some parents expressed to us.

"I don't think I would need a parental intervention at all. You shouldn't have anything to be afraid of," dad Scott Parrott said.

"That is their job to work with people and children, and they would call us if it was something severe enough that they thought the parents should be notified," Lori Roethlisberger expressed.

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