Charges Filed Against Bed, Bath & Beyond Manager Who Refused To Allow 911 Call

Police have charged Elizabeth Miller, the manager of the Bed, Bath & Beyond in Lexington, Kentucky, who refused to let a couple use the store’s phone to call 911 to report a three-year-old locked in a van, and refused to make an announcement over the store’s PA system. The charge is “failure to report dependency, neglect and abuse, a Class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 90 days and a maximum fine of $250.”

The county attorney quoted in the Kentucky Lexington Leader-Herald article points out that common decency should always trump any store policy, misinterpreted or not. In fact, it’s the law!

First Assistant Fayette County Attorney Brian Mattone told the Herald-Leader Thursday that under the duty-to-report statute, everyone has the duty to report dependency, neglect and abuse of a child if they have knowledge of it. Mattone said prosecutors thought that Miller, through witnesses, had knowledge of possible abuse or neglect. Moreover, there is language in the statute that says “nothing should relieve their obligation to report,” Mattone said.

The article also quotes another shopper who says she received a similar response from a different Bed, Bath & Beyond last summer when she saw a dog locked inside a car. Here’s hoping that the company’s “we’re ashamed this happened” response is authentic, and that their employees learn that it’s okay to offer help sometimes.

“Store clerk charged with failing to help child locked in van” [Herald-Leader] (Thanks to Michael and Donald!)
(Photo: Morton Fox)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. tenio says:

    wow…I seriously never thought someone would get charged!

    BB should be ashamed for having a crapy policy or no policy in the first place!

  2. Wow, I’ve only had good experience ar BB&B…
    Anyways, what i really want to see is some Airline rep being cuffed, jailed and abused.

  3. nfs says:

    why would someone refuse to allow you to call 911?

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      @nfs: Why would someone refuse to let someone call 911?

      I have two thoughts:
      1) Considering the idiocy involved here, I think this is the most likely scenario: It’s against company policy for customers to use the store phone. End of story. It’s the policy!
      2) This would be marginally less idiotic, though still very stupid: I know that with my local PD, an address that is the source of a disproportionate number of 911 calls is flagged as a ‘problem property.’ Problem properties are then given special attention from everyone from the police to the building inspectors. Ergo, it could be in one’s interest to minimize the 911 calls coming from your address, no matter the reason.

  4. christoj879 says:

    This is AWESOME! So glad to hear the law is getting involved and showing someone that their actions (or lack thereof) are NOT okay, company policy or otherwise.

  5. Lucky225 says:

    I’d like to point out that I mentioned in the previous article that refusing to yield a phone for an emergency is against the law in most States. I’m glad to see this A-hole being made an example of.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @Lucky225:

      This is a special case – it’s only because it’s neglect of a child (special reporting requirements). If there were an adult having a heart attack in the parking lot, there wouldn’t be a legal issue here.

      • thelushie says:

        @JustThatGuy3: True. If a woman was being beaten in the parking lot, nothing would have been done.

        I once saw a male creature abusing a woman outside of a clinic for for lower socioeconomic pregnant women. After sizing him up quickly and deciding that I could not straighten him out myself (really big and looked drunk), I pulled over to dial 911. The clerk gave me a look until her realized that I had a “look to kill” on my face, and yes, I could take him. He sulkily handed me the phone. A minute later, I saw the cops arrive.

      • SuperJdynamite says:

        @JustThatGuy3: “If there were an adult having a heart attack in the parking lot, there wouldn’t be a legal issue here.”

        Not necessarily. If the adult died there might be a good argument for depraved indifference. [definitions.uslegal.com]

    • alice_bunnie says:

      @Lucky225:
      I would like to point out that this is not what she was charged with.

      @EricLecarde:
      The Good Samaritan Law… I’m trying to see what tack you’re taking here. If you mean that it means that someone has to act as a Good Samaritan, that’s not what that means. OTOH, if you mean that the Good Samaritan law protects them in case someone tries to sue, it still does not keep them from incurring legal fees from some smart ass lawyer who thinks they can still win and files a case anyway. They still have to fight it, and they still incur their own fees.

  6. picardia says:

    I agree that it’s good to see a very solid reminder that there are responsibilities and considerations that outweigh “corporate policy” every time.

  7. NotYou007 says:

    I think it’s great they arrested the asshat. Best news I’ve read all day so far.

    • ShirtNinja says:

      @NotYou007: The article says nothing about arrested, just charged.

      She won’t do time, I’d wager. She’ll pay her fine and that’ll be that, but maybe next time somebody comes into the store and says that they’ve seen something terrible and would like to use the store phone to report it, she’ll think twice, and maybe other local businesses will think twice as well.

      • NotYou007 says:

        @ShirtNinja:

        Hey, I can have a fantasy can’t I? LOL!!!

        Yes, It won’t do jail time but at least it was charged but it would have been a lot nicer if they where arrested.

  8. Nick1693 says:

    Classic example of the popular phrase “Policies aren’t laws.” =)

  9. Skellbasher says:

    I believe that the kids these days would say ‘owned’.

  10. bobosgirl says:

    YAAYYYYYYYYY! I hope she rots in jail, is mortally embarressed, and that if her children are ever in distress, that someone who attempts to call 911 has a dead cell phone- what a turd she is. Basic human decency, people!

  11. Burgandy says:

    Lets hear it for the Lexington PD and DA!

  12. mythago says:

    @nfs: because they’re an assjack who doesn’t care about anyone but themselves, so thinks of ‘getting involved’ as an inconvenience.

    @bobosgirl: basic human decency would not be wishing ill on children who had nothing to do with their mother’s behavior.

  13. EricLecarde says:

    What happened to the Good Samaritan Law? Hell, what happened to common courtesy.

  14. cotr says:

    YES!! WHOORAH!

  15. NotAppealing says:

    Yay! Let’s all hope for a maximum sentence, m’kay?

  16. Parapraxis says:

    great. I hope as punishment they lock her stupid ass in a car on a hot day.

  17. Khuluna says:

    Ugh. MY name is Elizabeth Miller. Stupid common name, making me sulk. I’m just surprised they didn’t charge her sooner.

  18. Jamezspot says:

    Justice! Get it while it’s lukewarm.

  19. samurailynn says:

    I wonder if she’ll lose her job for not being able to report to work for 90 days because of the jail sentence.

  20. Jonbo298 says:

    Lose your job because of your incompetence and a mild fine? Justice prevails (hopefully). Though it was almost too lean on the manager because of how the situation could have played out if it went un-called for much longer.

  21. godlyfrog says:

    Some managers understand that policy is intended to be a guide, while others use it to defend their inability to make decisions.

    Sadly, no matter what is done to her, this woman is very likely going to learn absolutely nothing from this, and will probably tell anyone and everyone who will listen how she was victimized by the county.

  22. Darkwing_Duck says:

    Regarding the quote, I have an honest question, as IANAL. “everyone has the duty to report dependency, neglect and abuse of a child if they have knowledge of it.”

    It’s always been my understanding that certain professions (doctors, teachers, etc) are so-called “mandated reporters” in that, among other things, if they see evidence that a child has been abused they are required to report it.

    I don’t know, however, if it is correct that all citizens are mandated reporters in this case. Truth be told, you’d be a terrible person, but I doubt charges would be filed against an ordinary citizen who is not A) employed in a particular profession or B) involved in some capacity

    • MikeB says:

      @Darkwing_Duck: This is law is state by state.

    • nsv says:

      @Darkwing_Duck: I worked for a while at a school, but I’m not a teacher. Technically, my job required no contact at all with the students. (It is kind of hard to avoid, though, no matter how hard I tried.)

      When I started they sat me down and explained the penalties if I failed to report suspected child abuse. I asked if these laws applied to me, since I’m not a teacher and don’t work with the students, and was told that yes, they apply to everyone.

      I don’t know if that meant everyone within the school (including, say, the night janitor,) or everyone in the state.

      Never had to do that, fortunately.

  23. I am really glad this person got punished, but there are millions of people like this in retail. It’s kind of hard to blame BBB. I could see this happening at almost any major retailer, unfortunately.

  24. Possinator says:

    I bet BB&B is going to take this news “very seriously.”

  25. krispykrink says:

    Outstanding!

    Surprised it took this long though. Myself and my colleagues would have taken her in during the initial response if it was reported to us when we got there.

  26. Ben_Q2 says:

    The problem with this is people are getting to scared to do anything. You can say anything you want about this. Having been on this side. I no longer stop to help anyone. Its very sad. I stop to help this lady out when I was younger. The sister thought I was trying to take the car. I was not. I spent time in jail over this. I went in front of the Judge and the sister did say I was helping her. When the Judge ask how come you did not tell the police or your sister this. She said that she was not to be driving the car and she did not want to get into trouble.

    This woman was going to let me go to jail. If not for a police officer I had known talking to this lady asking her. I would have.

    In time I have been hit many times trying to help people. I no longer help anyone and I really do not talk to people anymore. My answers are now very short in person.

    As a person that has ran stores. I would have just walk outside and took a look myself. She should have done something. Yes, but in the long run this will jade her now.

  27. RAREBREED says:

    PLUS ONE for Common Sense!

  28. Crabfeast says:

    Forget common courtesy, forget being a decent human being, I would have done something just because it breaks up the daily routine. My days in retail consisted of the same people, same type of customers, same grueling clean ups, restocking shelves, and pointing people to the bathroom that I welcomed any change in pace. Most people I worked with felt the same way too. Rogue shopping cart slams into a parked car? It’d be the talk of the store for days. Not only would doing something in this situation have added some excitement, but on top of that it would’ve actually made you feel good for doing something almost heroic. What kind of person would pass this up, and basically say, “no thanks, I’d rather reprint these SKUs and then maybe do a little cleaning in seasonal.” Who I ask you, who?

    • MyPetFly says:

      @Crabfeast:

      “…I would have done something just because it breaks up the daily routine.”

      But that’s exactly what some lazy people don’t want.

      And if the idiot was afraid of getting fired for following that “policy,” real or imagined, I would guess that it would be a good case of wrongful termination.

  29. xip says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. One time I was at a BP gas station at about 2am, and I noticed that right across the street there was a guy passed out in his car with his foot on the gas. The car was in park, so it wasn’t going anywhere, but the engine was smoking because it was damn near floored.

    I didn’t want to go mess with the guy just in case, and I wasn’t sure if he had a medical problem or was just passed out drunk. Either way, I decided to call the police. I went to the pay phone, but it was out of order. I went into the gas station, told them the situation, and asked them if I could use the phone to call the police. They told me no. I told them that the payphone was out of order, and I really needed to use the phone. I asked them if they would call the police. They said no. They basically said it wasn’t their problem.

  30. jpdanzig says:

    Excellent result. But someone says they heard of a similar incident at another BBB.

    If so, that sounds like a failure of corporate policy of some kind, not merely the criminal action of one clueless individual.

  31. AnxiousDemographic says:

    The BBB store manager will surely benefit from “maximum sentence of 90 days and a maximum fine of $250″ worth of “training opportunity”!

  32. closed_account says:

    What was that a few days ago posted on here… “Policy does not supersede law”? Yea, holds true here as well. Thank God.

  33. ClayS says:

    What human being doesn’t have the sense to know that an emergency supercedes a store policy?

    If a pregnant woman was waiting on the receipt checking line to exit Walmart, and her water broke, would a store employee detain her?

  34. Not Alvis says:

    I don’t like this jerk getting charged under THIS law. Knowledge of abuse and hearsay are quite different things.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      @Clold: Agreed, this person is a douche, but I’m questionable about this situation here…

      If I randomly walk up to one of you in a business and say “Hey, go call 911, there’s a kid locked in a hot car over there.” can you get in trouble for not calling when you have absolutely no proof that there’s actually a kid locked in a car somewhere aside from hearsay of a random stranger?

      What happens if you call the police, they arrive, and there’s no kid in a car (or me) to be found? Then, the next day, I run up to you again and do it again? And again the next day?

      Finally, on the fourth day, there’s actually a kid locked in the car and I run up to you and tell you to call 911… and you refuse?

      Granted, the BBB manager should have investigated this matter further, but the idea of charging someone for not getting involved… wow… that’s questionable… I wouldn’t be surprised if the charges are dropped, since the manager had no first hand evidence that there was actually anyone in danger.

      What’s even more sad is that the parent(s) will probably get off easier than the manager…

      • Parapraxis says:

        @TheUncleBob:

        That’s a really weird example. Crying wolf, however, doesn’t hold up in court very well.

        • TheUncleBob says:

          @Parapraxis: I’m just saying, I’m not too keen on the idea of charging someone for not reporting information that they couldn’t attest to being true. Since there’s no evidence that the BBB manager actually *knew* there was some kind of child abuse going on here, it seems a little faulty to charge them for not reporting something they didn’t *know*….

          • TWinter says:

            @TheUncleBob: I get what you’re saying, but if the manager wasn’t comfortable reporting it herself because she didn’t have first hand knowledge, she still could have handed over the phone to the customer and let the customer call 911. If it was a false call the customer would have been in trouble with the police.

          • @TheUncleBob: You can do this for anything.

            Someone says “I’m having a heart attack.”

            Should I do something? It might be a scam!

            Someone says “I can’t find my child.”

            Should I do something? It might be a scam!

            Someone says “I saw a very suspicious guy over there.”

            Should I do something? It might be a scam!

            Someone says…

            You get the idea.

      • parkerjh says:

        @TheUncleBob:

        Ridiculous example. Of course no one would have been charged if they had a history of people crying wolf and then not calling. That’s not the case here. For God’s sake, if it was your kid and then they died, you’d want this manager prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am glad this action was taken.

  35. HPCommando says:

    Moons ago, worked at a pizza parlor next to a donut shop in a bad neighborhood. We always had a 3-person crew, but the owner of the donut shop would constantly have only one person running the shop.

    Of course, it’s robbed at gunpoint with the 19-year-old college cheerleader working. The robbers make comments about coming back and “getting more” from her personally.

    So, our night manager goes over to keep her company until someone else (police, donut shop owner, parents) can show up and keep her safe. He’s gone for maybe 20 minutes.

    Our store manager fires him for “dereliction of duty” and “walking off the job”.

    Two days later, the owner reinstates him and publicly humiliates the store manager in front of the staff about being a good citizen, helping others in time of need, and so forth.

    The funny/ironic part: The owner is an immigrant from Thailand. The store manager got reassigned to a store in a worse neighborhood.

    • thelushie says:

      @HPCommando: It is stupid of the owner to leave just one employee in a store. I see it happen around where I live all the time because this is a “small town where nothing happens.” One day something will happen and I hope no one is hurt.

  36. wills916 says:

    Time to fire up ol’ sparky.

  37. CrazyMann says:

    It is sooo sad that we as humans have not managed to grow beyond the, Milgram Experiment of the 1960′s. “I was just following orders”, is still not a defense.

  38. Wubbytoes says:

    Awesome. I really hate it someone acts like their company’s policy supercedes the real laws.

  39. sweetpea12 says:

    I hope she gets what she deserves. Why do people in retail lack common sense and moral compasses these days?

  40. So next time a couple “honest looking” people go into BBB and report an auto accident with injuries or child left in car or whatever. Of course the floor staff will make a 911 call…. because that is the “responsible” thing to do.

    Except there is no auto accident with injuries or child left in the car. The “honest looking” people are trying to create a diversion for their friend’s illegal activities.

    And now the store manager will be arrested for making false calls.

    Damned if you, damned if you don’t.

    • mythago says:

      @Corporate-Shill: You and UncleBob are *really* straining to play devil’s advocate here.

      • @mythago:

        No. Not entirely Devil’s Advocate.

        My business is located on a corner leading into a small industrial area adjoining a major thoroughfair. At least once per month somebody gets confused whether my driveway is the entrance to the industrial park, whether they can enter the side street and still access McD’s etc etc and there will be a minor to severe fender bender. About every year or so there are actual real injuries.

        I can HEAR the crashes. I know the sound. I also know if I heard screaching brakes and whether 3 vehicles were involved just because of the sounds. But while my office over looks the road, I don’t have clear view of the entire roadway so I can not accurately describe the accident, the number of vehicles, injuries etc.

        JUST 400 yards away on the major thoroughfare is a city fire station with rescue truck and paramedics. 1200 feet is too far to hear the crash, but it is not a struggle for the truck to respond… even to minor fender benders (just in case).

        But each and every time there was an accident I would argue with the 911 operators as to whether it was a real emergency, whether injuries are involved. State and/or municiple laws require a witness to the accident to report the accident and since I only HEARD the accident I could not be truthful as to the size and severity of the accident.

        Complete and utter BS. But they are also correct.

        About 10 years ago, really late at night, I heard the squeels and thump. I made the call. 911 operators argued with me… until the PD officer reported on his radio that he had been in an accident, his car was upside down, and he did not know where he was (skull fracture).

        Since then, I call … no arguing…. and the Fire Truck rolls…. just in case.

        Now think about BBB. How many “good samaritians” are making “baby in car” reports each day? Hopefully none, but I am sure some clowns with nothing better to do and a desire to see police cars and fire trucks responding to a false alarm are making false claims each and every day.

        And the store manager is caught between a rock and a hard place.

        A reasonble store policy would be to allow the store manager to depart the store to confirm the problem and make the 911 call. Except the manager has left the store and the store is now at risk. Ok, just let the customers make the call. Except not all of these types of stores have telephones were the customers can access…. and then the store is on the hook for false calls because the “customer” is long gone… standing in the parking lot to watch the chaos he/she just caused.

        Big ugly Catch-22.

        And then there is the 911 operators that are trying to determine the real need and what responding equipment might be needed and the caller lacks fundamental answers to make everybody’s job easier and possibly save a life if the wrong equipment failed to respond to the call.

        It is easy to point fingers. A clear answer is harder to find.

        • msbask says:

          @Corporate-Shill: That entire argument is ridiculous. If someone comes to customer service and asks to use the phone because a baby is locked in a car outside, you let them use the phone case closed.

          It’s completely unnecessary to grossly overthink the situation.

          It’s a freaking phone call.

        • krispykrink says:

          @Corporate-Shill: BTW, I overlooked your “responding equipment” argument.

          Most officers have a slim-jim in the trunk. However, these don’t work on all cars and some officers aren’t savvy enough with them. The “backup” equipment is usually a blunt object such as our baton or flashlight to one of the windows. In other words, every officer on duty has the right equipment for this.

        • evslin says:

          @Corporate-Shill: A reasonble store policy would be to allow the store manager to depart the store to confirm the problem and make the 911 call. Except the manager has left the store and the store is now at risk.

          What, the store is at risk if the manager leaves for the 90 seconds it takes to walk out to a car in the parking lot and back? What’s gonna happen, are the inmates going to take over the asylum? This is a major chain we’re talking about here, not a mom and pop shop where the manager is also the only employee in the store.

          And 911 operators shouldn’t be determining whether a dispatch needs to be made or not when a kid is being reported as left locked in a hot car. You make the dispatch, and if there’s no kid or no car, you ticket the person with calling in a false report. If every call to 911 resulted in a deliberation process to try to figure out if the call was legitimate or not, nobody would ever get dispatched for any reason.

          • @evslin:

            “you ticket the person with calling in a false report”

            Yep, rock and hard place.

            Remember, I am the guy making 911 calls because I HEARD a problem. I am quick on the draw. I also understand I am sticking my neck out IF there really is no problem.

        • mythago says:

          @Corporate-Shill: BB&B was not asked to call 911. A couple reporting a crime asked to use a phone to call 911. In your example, they, not you, would have been arguing with the 911 operator about whether or not it was a crime.

          You’re also conflating a claim of an emergency (little kid locked in a car alone) with a non-emergency (car crash where you don’t know if anyone is injured).

          I’m not sure why you think it would be good store policy to have the manager go and confirm, rather than allowing the customer to make the call themselves. Now the manager is in the position of deciding whether or not it’s an emergency. All that needed to be done here was for the manager to hand the couple the phone. If they were making a fake call, it’s on them, not the manager or the store. Are you really suggesting that she would have been arrested for providing a phone so somebody could call 911?

          So yes, as you admit, you’re playing devil’s advocate, if not “entirely”.

    • krispykrink says:

      @Corporate-Shill: Most of these types of stores rent their retail space in a strip mall type lot. It is the responsibility of the renters and the property owner as a whole to monitor the full plot of the land, which includes the private parking lot for these retailers.

      When a situation such as this is brought to the attention of one of the businesses they have the responsibility to confirm and summon the proper authorities.

      If they are unable or unwilling to monitor the property under their control and authority, it is their responsibility to demand the property owner hire private security to take on this authority.

      When the manager was given due cause and probable belief (numerous customers brought this to her attention) that the situation was real and require immediate emergency response, she ignored the local statutes of law and willfully chose to let the child possibly die or suffer undue harm.

      We have similar laws on our books, which is why I was surprised that she was not charged (as I would have done) during the initial response to this incident.

    • floraposte says:

      @Corporate-Shill: Cite an example where a store manager has been arrested for making incorrect 911 calls in good faith, please.

  41. JiminyChristmas says:

    A small correction for this post: It’s the Lexington Herald-Leader, not the Kentucky Herald-Leader.

    Signed,
    Ex-Kentuckian

  42. balthisar says:

    This is going to be unpopular, but I hope the person fights it and wins. She had no knowledge, just the word of someone on the street THAT DID HAVE knowledge, and was ALREADY trying to report it.

    Don’t get me wrong, as I said in the other post, the employee is an idiot. But this is pushing it too far.

    • tevetorbes says:

      “It is easy to point fingers. A clear answer is harder to find.”

      @Corporate-Shill: Here’s the clear answer:

      Person walks in, says “Help a kid is locked in a car.”

      Clerk says, “Sorry, I can’t leave my post. Feel free to use my store phone to call 911.”

      The. End.

      As was stated previously, you are straining AWFULLY hard to play devil’s advocate. I hope they nail this asstard to the wall.

  43. misslisa says:

    It’s interesting to compare the Consumerists’ responses to this to the comments at the Lexington Herald Leader’s site. If you go to the linked article & scroll down, you’ll see that over half their commenters (last I looked) are aghast that the store manager was charged with a crime. Their rationale seems to be that retaining one’s livelihood trumps all (policy over sense), and that the witnesses should have just dealt with it on their own without involving anyone else.

    Like the poster above, I’m a former Kentuckian too, so their mentality is familiar to me yet strange at the same time…

  44. EricaKane says:

    Yep, “knowledge” is the key word here. Is the word of a stranger sufficient to convey knowledge that a baby was truly in danger? If you see the baby locked in the car, then you have knowledge.

  45. The district attorney appears to be taking this very seriously

  46. bkpatt says:

    FARKING AWESOME!! WTG Fayette County!!

  47. mackjaz says:

    This is just like the last episode of Seinfeld. Only funny.

  48. Scoobatz says:

    I’m not so sure I understand all the comments regarding store policy. BB&B’s corporate response (in the previous posting) was the following:

    The most recent statement that we issued yesterday indicated that this situation was not handled the way we would have expected it to be handled. We have no policies that should have impeded our ability to respond in this case. And yes, we are using this unfortunate occurrence as an opportunity to re-train our associates nationwide. Like you, we do not want anything like this to happen again.

    Am I missing something? Other than the manager’s complete lack of moral character and common sense, I don’t consider the company largely at fault.

  49. I have been at this a long time. You don’t do this, you get screwed. You do that, you get screwed.

    It is easy to respond in the “right” way. Or what looks like the “right” way in HINDSIGHT.

    If, 30 years later, I saw two youths in a parking lot with a handgun, would I dial 911? You betcha. Not one seconds hesitation.

    Would I break the car window if a child was in distress? Yep, absolutely, and I would not need to call 911 to do it either. I have a tire iron in my car. I bet I get the window broken in less than 3 hits.

    I also know that my arse could end up in a court room or worse because of my actions.

  50. dorastandpipe says:

    Unfortunately, 911 dispatchers DO try and determine legitimate calls. There have been many cases of things falling through the cracks and lives lost. One case I can think of was where a young woman was kidnapped from her home and by chance another lady driving her car heard what she described as “a child screaming” in the car next to her at a stop light. She asked the dispatcher if she should follow the vehicle, but the dispatcher was caught up in this kidnapping case. The dispatcher decided that the call about a child in a dark green camaro was not close enough to a young woman in a black camaro and did not summon police to investigate. The young woman was killed soon after. It could have been avoided if the dispatcher just sent one unit to investigate. I saw it on ABC (I think)in one of those one hour special reports.

    Also, my dh is a firefighter and he says they constantly have issues with dispatchers not being thorough enough.

    • newfenoix says:

      @dorastandpipe: It happens everywhere. One Sunday night, another officer and myself were sent on a “stabbing” call. We were told that it was at a certain short street in the north part of town. We get there and NO SUCH ADDRESS! The primary officer calls it in and our lieutenant tells us the correct address, across town from our location. We get there and find that it was BS.

      Results? 911 dispatcher gets fired. Why? Three other dispatchers and the lieutenant heard the call and the address BUT one disagreed and sent us on a Code 3 (lights and sirens) goose chase. Because of this our chief orders EVERY dispatcher to ride a full patrol shift on each of our three shifts. They’ve had no such problems since

  51. u1itn0w2day says:

    If a customer needs 911,you the employee simply dial it and hand the customer the phone.More than likely the customer will be on some type of surveillance camera/tape anyway.

    So many companies manage by threat but many employees don’t realize that there is a difference between company policy and what is right or wrong.The company is not always right or even legal in many cases.Common Sense!!!

  52. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    We had a BBQ joint burn to the ground one night. 2 people called and the dispatcher said they were probably smoking meat.

    The worst thing is that it was half a block from a fire station.

  53. ChuckECheese says:

    AFAIK, every state has a child-abuse reporting law. You–and that means everybody, no matter what your position is–are obligated to report suspected child abuse even if you are a 3rd party, for instance, if you only heard about a child being abused. The laws are typically written that, given a situation where there is a group of people all of whom know about the abuse, a single person can be designated to make the report, but you better be sure that it gets done, because if down the road, you learn that the report wasn’t made and the authorities learn that you were aware of abuse and didn’t report it, you are liable.

    It is expressly against the law to refuse or to fail to make a report for any reason whatsoever. This means that there are no permissible excuses for not making a report. There is no problem with people making multiple reports over the same event, so don’t concern yourself with that. This law means that the store manager who refused to help report the abuse has committed a crime, because she is a 3rd party who had suspicion because she was told about the child in the car. (Of course she went a face-palming step further and actually prevented others from making a report, and I think that’s why the authorities decided to press charges.)

    The law doesn’t require that she personally verify the situation, although it would have only required a minute or two to do so, had she cared (and she didn’t). I have personally never known or even heard of a person charged with making a false police report when they sincerely believed that a crime was taking place (even if it wasn’t). Child welfare investigators respond to many false alarms and the occasional malicious report. That’s the reality, and they’d rather deal with false alarms than the alternative.

    Why do we have such laws at all? Because many people are considerably chickens**t, and when confronted with a situation that they find emotionally or physically threatening, they will go to considerable lengths to avoid having to deal with the people or circumstances involved, even if it means that a child gets beaten or raped or baked in a car. People’s powers of denial are strong, and these laws requiring that one report crimes and render aid are designed to make it clear that it is socially and legally unacceptable to witness another in danger without trying to help.

  54. Canino says:

    Unfortunately I doubt if this charge will stick. I’m not sure how the text of the law reads, but having personal knowledge of a fact (abuse in this case) is not the same as having hearsay knowledge of an unproven fact (someone said there was abuse happening). The manager can easily say she thought it was a joke or she thought someone was jerking her around and that she didn’t have actual personal knowledge of the abuse since she did not witness anything herself. That would be my defense anyway.

    • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

      @Canino:

      Unfortunately I doubt if this charge will stick. I’m not sure how the text of the law reads, but having personal knowledge of a fact (abuse in this case) is not the same as having hearsay knowledge of an unproven fact (someone said there was abuse happening).

      The Kentucky law is pretty simple: “Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is dependent, neglected, or abused shall immediately report.”

      So if the local crazy bag woman who sniffs light bulbs in aisle 6 comes in ranting, you’re probably safe to ignore her. But if a normal seeming person tells you there’s a kid locked in a car outside (an unfortunately common enough ocurrence), it would seem like you would have reasonable cause to believe it.

      • abigsmurf says:

        @TinyBug: However surely that law criminalises anyone who had a mobile phone on them or walked past the car too?

        • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

          @abigsmurf: However surely that law criminalises anyone who had a mobile phone on them or walked past the car too?

          It would certainly seem to apply to anyone who walked past the car AND saw the kids inside, regardless of whether or not they had a cell phone. Frankly, I think anyone who sees a child locked inside a hot car and doesn’t do anything about it should be charged with a felony.

          Laws like this are pretty common. People who see children being abused, neglected or endangered have a legal obligation to report it to the authorities. People who have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect have different levels of legal obligation depending on what state they live in and what their occupation is.

          The Kentucky law doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

        • BoomerFive says:

          @abigsmurf: “However surely that law criminalises anyone who had a mobile phone on them or walked past the car too?”

          In fact it does, unfortunately we will never know who may have walked by, saw the child in danger and did nothing.

  55. baristabrawl says:

    I’ve been pissed off since I first read this. This outcome is like a hug from Jesus. Eat it, BB&B! This makes me SO happy.

  56. Oh, SNAP!! I _soo_ wish I could prosecute this case, mostly because I really like winning :-)

  57. abigsmurf says:

    Why is the store manager any more responsible than anyone else who didn’t make the call? Would the guy who asked them to report the incident (then did it himself) have been charged with this crime had the store called the police? Afterall he was capable of going to his phone and calling the police straight away but chose not to.

    I’m not defending the store not calling but stepping back and looking at what happened, these charges seem incredibly stupid.

    • BoomerFive says:

      @abigsmurf:She is responsible because she knew about the situation and refused to help. The guy was trying to help, see the difference? Who knows how far the gentleman would have had to go to get to “his” phone. What if he lived 30 minutes away? And saying he “chose” not to go to “his” phone makes no sense at all. He “chose” to help by running to the store to use a phone! There was a child locked in a hot car dude!

      Bottom line, the store had a phone a 15 second walk away from the situation and the manager was completely heartless and stupid for refusing to help.

      I would rather lose any job I had than to not stop to help a child in danger. These charges are completely valid and I hope she is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Think before you speak man.

  58. abigsmurf says:

    “I would rather lose any job I had than to not stop to help a child in danger.”

    But that’s not a choice that is either fair or right and it should never be used to condemn someone. There should never be a lose/lose situation like what these laws create. Why should, no matter what someone does, wether they make a moral choice or a selfish one, have their life ruined, especially when the actual criminal was someone else? Who’s to say losing his job and income won’t cause far more harm to his own family’s wellbeing?

    The manager had to balance his responsibility to help an endangered child with the possiblity that the police would find him responsible for wasting police time or worse, appearing on the news and consumerist with the headline “I went into the store for 5 minutes and find BBB manager had the window of my car smashed, terrifying my children”. He made a bad call in retrospect but he was in a tough position.

    Laws punishing non-malicious inaction can be dubious at the best of times.

    • BoomerFive says:

      @abigsmurf:”Laws punishing non-malicious inaction can be dubious at the best of times.”

      100% wrong. Simply because this was MALICIOUS inaction. The manager knew a child was in danger and refused to help, morally, legally, HUMANLY inexcusable. I don’t know if you are trying to make a “government stay out of my business” point, but you are way way off base here.

      “The manager had to balance his responsibility to help an endangered child with the possiblity that the police would find him responsible for wasting police time or worse, appearing on the news and consumerist with the headline “I went into the store for 5 minutes and find BBB manager had the window of my car smashed, terrifying my children”. He made a bad call in retrospect but he was in a tough position.”

      The wrongness of this is staggering, this was not her call to make! It is up to the police to make this call, not a store manager who I am sure couldn’t even be bothered to go outside and see for herself. In this situation you ALWAYS err on the side of caution. There is NO WAY the cops would have been upset at her! Ask any cop and they will tell you they would rather have 100 false alarms then 1 dead child. This was a no brainer from the beginning. Think man!

      • abigsmurf says:

        @TinyBug: Great, you probably have 10-20 people who probably walked past the car with the kids inside who’ve get charged with felonies, most of the people in the queue in earshot of the conversation in the store and most of the cashiers, all being charged felonies that could cost them their livlihoods.

        These laws do exist but they’re designed to close a loophole in child abuse laws. Someone could quite easily go “sure I knew my wife hit my son but I never did it myself and just stood by” and get off because it would be incredibly difficult to prove he took part.

        What this manager is being charged with is not what these laws were intended for. It’s a case of “lets find a law for him to have broken because the public want us to do something”.

        @BoomerFive: It was not malicious, he wasn’t sure what to do and took what he felt would be the lesser of two evils. Poor judgment is not the same as maliciously trying to harm the child.

        It was the manager’s call to make, they were (effectively) his phones. Ultimately the courts will decide if his call was legal or not (I suspect the charges will be quietly dropped because it’ll set a pretty bad precedent).

        There’s no way the cops would’ve been mad at her? Even if the cops arrive 5 minutes later to find the car had left because the mother had only left her kids for 2 minutes? Rubbish, the cops would be pretty annoyed at having their time wasted. Cops would not rather have 100 false alarms because those 100 times could’ve been spent responding to actual emergencies. Wasting the time of emergency services costs lives.

        Again, the manager made a pretty bad decision but it’s not worth jail over, especially as a precedent will create a cast iron lose-lose sitation for a number of managers who will now be expected to have a near psychic knowledge of if something is a real emergency or not.

        • BoomerFive says:

          @abigsmurf: Seriously, could you please think about your responses? You are making a simple issue a very complicated one. “I saw a child locked in a hot car but I was afraid to waste a cop’s time” is ludicrous. And “near psychic knowledge”? She didnt have to be a psychic because the guy was standing right there BEGGING to use the phone! ALL HE WANTED TO DO WAS USE THE PHONE! He wasn’t even asking the manager to call, he JUST WANTED TO USE THE PHONE.

          You are saying that this can cause store managers to be sued or prosecuted if a child dies in their parking lot, even if they didnt know the child was locked in a car? Is that your argument? That’s totally ridiculous.

          And I guarantee that the cops would rather be called and find out the kid was safe than show up to collect a dead body. Any police officers that comment on this site disagree?

        • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

          @abigsmurf:

          Great, you probably have 10-20 people who probably walked past the car with the kids inside who’ve get charged with felonies, most of the people in the queue in earshot of the conversation in the store and most of the cashiers, all being charged felonies that could cost them their livlihoods.

          Melodramatic much? Simply walking past or hearing about have nothing to do with what I said. What I said is “I think anyone who sees a child locked inside a hot car and doesn’t do anything about it should be charged with a felony.”. And yes, if 10-20 people walked past, and saw those children locked in a hot car and did nothing about it, then yes, every single one of them should be charged with a felony.

          These laws do exist but they’re designed to close a loophole in child abuse laws.

          No, they’re designed to protect children by not allowing selfish assholes to get away with “I didn’t want to get involved” or “It’s no big deal, really” or “It’s not my problem” when they see children who are being, or have been, abused.

          Now imagine this happening nationwide, stores, malls, public areas without their own onsite security/ambulances… That’s a lot of emergency services potentially being diverted from far more credible emergencies

          “Far more credible emergencies?”

          -2 Children Left in Hot Vehicle Die
          -4-year-old boy dies in locked car
          -Idaho toddler dies after being locked in hot car
          -Infant Found Dead in Cincinnati Christian University Dr. Jodie Edwards Van
          -3-month-old Locked in Car Dies
          -Baby dies in locked car

          Allow me to amend my remark above: No, they’re designed to protect children by not allowing selfish assholes like you to get away with “I didn’t want to get involved” or “It’s no big deal, really” or “It’s not my problem” when they see children who are being, or have been, abused.

          • newfenoix says:

            @TinyBug: As I said earlier, a child locked in a hot car is a major emergency. I feel that this manager SHOULD be charged with a felony. She will probably loose her job because of the bad publicity and it would be doubtful that she would ever be able to work in retail management again.

          • Darkwing_Duck says:

            @TinyBug: Well, what if you DON’T want to get involved? If you’re a government employee, health care worker, teacher, employed at a mall where you see child abuse, YES, but I am staunchly against mandated reporter laws that bind ordinary citizens

    • Icetrey74 says:

      @abigsmurf: “I went into the store for 5 minutes and find BBB manager had the window of my car smashed, terrifying my children”.

      Time away from the vehicle is a moot point. The point is you are away from your car sans children. Unacceptable for any length of time.

    • @abigsmurf: Anybody who can seriously put their job as a higher priority than the life of a child in danger not only deserves to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as I’ve said before, they need to see a psychiatrist.

      It is, by the very definition of the word, sociopathic to worry more about one’s job than a child locked in a stifling car. Are you seriously arguing that it would be worse for you to lose your job than for a child to die?

  59. ViperBorg says:

    Excellent. They need to be made an example of here.

  60. fonetek says:

    I wonder if BB&B is going to pick up the tab for the manager’s legal fees for following company policy. How does the manager not have the moral fiber to report the situation to the police? The manager and BB&B deserve everything they have coming to them. I hope the bad press and legal charges get them to open their eyes.

  61. abigsmurf says:

    No Boomer, I’m saying it means they have to waste Police time because they will HAVE to dial 911 no matter how credible the risk is as they won’t be able to risk the reprecusions of not calling the police. They’re still up for the same fines but at least companies won’t find their managers jailed.

    Now imagine this happening nationwide, stores, malls, public areas without their own onsite security/ambulances… That’s a lot of emergency services potentially being diverted from far more credible emergencies. Ultimately nanny state policies like this, hurt the general public.

    Of course cops would rather find out a kid was safe then find a body. But cops also would rather they didn’t arrive at a scene 5 minutes after someone got shot because they had been responding to a trivial callout.

    There’s a reason forces around the world spend a lot of money on campaigns teaching people to only call the emergency services for real emergencies.

    Again I’m not saying the manager did the right thing. Only that the prospect of jail time for it is wrong.

  62. mike says:

    Has Bed, Bath, & Beyond released a statement yet? Saying that they are going to use jail as a training opprotunity?

  63. Corporate_guy says:

    Citing an incident with a dog to show a pattern is pretty weak. People leave dogs in cars all the time.
    As to the child, it’s one of those things you have to see before it becomes your responsibility. A third party telling a manager of a store about a possible crime better not constitute knowledge of a crime. This case is going to come down to knowledge.
    “everyone has the duty to report dependency, neglect and abuse of a child if they have knowledge of it.”
    Legally, a 3rd party telling you about something they saw cannot be considered knowledge. Otherwise anyone that heard this woman’s story that day is automatically a criminal for not dropping everything and helping her get a phone based on only her story while having no idea if it is true or not. Which is pretty scary to think about.

  64. loganmo says:

    Maybe with good behavior, the manager can get 20% off of her sentence..wakka wakka.

  65. newfenoix says:

    First of all, a child locked in a car in hot weather IS AN EMERGENCY! And it is a 911 emergency. I answered two such calls when I was a cop. In the first, it was pure negligence and the mother was arrested. In the second, a 3 yr old closed the door, locking keys and baby inside. No charges were filed in that one. I had to break a window in this one to get the child out.

    Now, I work as a district manager for a retail chain in Texas and I can tell you from personal experience that good managers are getting very hard to find. A manager’s first responsibility is to take care of the company’s needs. All companies have policies to help GUIDE the manager in doing this. I have always taught my managers that policies are JUST GUIDELINES to help them. The corporate leadership can’t be in the store to hold the manager by the hand and tell them what to do. Not allowing a 911 call IS NOT PROTECTING THE COMPANY OR ITS INTERESTS.

    Now, the manager has been arrested and I will bet a c-note that BB&B also gets fined by the state because of the actions of this “manager.”

  66. Munsoned says:

    Don’t be so sure the manager won’t see jail time (if it’s possible under the statute). You have a DA that bent to public pressure to bring the charges in the first place, and a somewhat high-profile case. The Plus, I’d hazard a guess that if any of you were the judge or jury in this case, you’d probably vote for her to get SOME time in the city jail, right? The manager put a child’s life at risk from their callousness–that’s got to count for something…

  67. Tigerman_McCool says:

    How about “common sense” trumps store policy…

  68. parentsfault says:

    Why don’t the couple break the window to rescue their child? The couple should be charged for not doing the right thing to save their kids. These are irresponsible parents who value the cost of window over the cost of their child’s life. If this was my kid, I will break my window no matter how expensive my car is to save my kid.

    I don’t see why calling the cops will help. All they do is come 4 hours later to see a dead child in the car.

  69. JackSprat1 says:

    As a retail manager myself in a company that has its fair share of crazy incidents, lawsuits, and everything else mentioned in this thread, I can tell you what I would have done:

    Simply walked with the customers out to the car to make sure a child was actually locked in the car. If I found one, I would have called 911 on my cell phone and let the police handle the matter.

    If the car was too distant to walk, I would have allowed the customers to call 911 and take care of the situation themselves with the police.

    Company might receive bad press if it was in our parking lot, but no one in their right mind would fire or demerit a manager for calling the police about a toddler locked in their car unattended.

    Common sense is your friend. This store manager will be kicking themself for the rest of their life after they’re fired for making such a stupid decision.

  70. BrianDaBrain says:

    To this, I say “fantastic”. The manager needs to be an example to the rest of the corporate world that turning a blind eye to a crime is not OK. I was horrified to have read Consumerist’s first post about the story, but I am glad to see that the person responsible is being held accountable.

  71. ridbaxter says:

    The manager of that BBB is an idiot, no doubt.

    I have a positive BBB experience to report, though: Last year I was followed to my car by a guy. I spotted him shadowing me a few rows over (while trying to hide behind cars) after I had come out of a mall. As soon as I saw him veer into a course which would have intercepted me before I had reached my car, I quickly trotted back to the nearest store with an outside exit, which happened to be a BBB. I explained the situation to the clerk behind the counter and asked if she could call mall security so that I could have an escort to my car. She picked up the phone right away. By then, the guy had followed me to BBB and after pacing back and forth in the foyer, entered the store and was idling behind a store display. The clerk called another clerk, both of them approached the guy and told him he had to step outside. The first clerk locked the store doors (this was about 15 minutes before the mall closed), allowing me to stay inside. The guy took off when a city police car rolled up: the clerk had called 911 rather than the mall rent-a-cops.

    I’m quite grateful to the clerks at that BBB. They took me at my word (in a situation where it would had been very easy to dismiss my concern) and handled the situation proactively.

    This was at the Eastridge Mall BBB, in San Jose CA.

  72. doireallyneedausername says:

    YAYAYAYAY! I’m so excited to hear that this woman is getting charged. Store policy or not, c’mon folks, common sense. If she is found guilty, the punishment should be to lock her in a car for 3 hours in 100 degree heat. She’ll get to hear a live audio feed to the store’s front counter where a woman will run in to report that someone is locked inside of a hot car, but the a hired-actor-turned-store-manager will heartlessly say: “No can do, buck-o. Can’t let you call 911 on our phones. It’s store policy.”

  73. bagumpity says:

    Smartest thing this guy can do is is plead guilty w/o trying to strike a deal, pay the full fine, stand up in front of the court room and tell everyone there “I am sorry for what I did. It was wrong. I take full responsibility, and will accept the consequences.”

  74. newfenoix says:

    This manager catches me as the type of manager that believes that company was policy was carried down from Mt. Sinai by Moses along with the Ten Commandments. Managers like this never get above store level OR eventually get terminated because they are so anal retentive that the business suffers.

    They can quote chapter and verse from the policy manual but don’t know a single thing about customer service.

  75. This is a sick, sad thing that we’re talking about here. That some people have to be forced by law to report abuse is indicative of a moral failing of the highest order. That some here are justifying the “don’t want to get involved” argument is even sicker.

    Regarding laws that mandate reporting of abuse: it seems simple to me. If you don’t have a conscience, if you can somehow justify in your mind what this lady did, if God forbid you are faced with this situation and choose to make the same decision she did, then you need to face the consequences. If you can’t understand an equation as simple as: a child’s life > a job, then you deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    • Darkwing_Duck says:

      @jasonhackwith: “Regarding laws that mandate reporting of abuse: it seems simple to me. If you don’t have a conscience, if you can somehow justify in your mind what this lady did, if God forbid you are faced with this situation and choose to make the same decision she did, then you need to face the consequences. If you can’t understand an equation as simple as: a child’s life > a job, then you deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

      Entirely wrong. You display a frightening value judgment. It is not illegal to be a psychopath, and you cannot be prosecuted. Failing to act, perhaps, but sheesh what a way to phrase it.

      • @Darkwing_Duck: I’m displaying “a frightening value judgement?” Is anybody else seeing the irony here?

        No, it isn’t illegal to be a psychopath, or a sociopath. It is, however, illegal in many states to act as this lady did regardless of your intentions… and yes, you can certainly be prosecuted for it. Whether she deserves jail time or mandated psychotherapy is another question entirely. Whether the higher-ups at BB&B were responsible and deserve prosecution as well is still another question. I haven’t seen enough information to answer either of those questions.

        However, if this was the manager in question’s sole decision, it is sociopathic by definition because it displays a gross narcissism, a lack of conscience, a need for control, a lack of empathy… I could go on.

        For my part, I can’t understand the “value judgements” of those here who are defending her, or her decision. Even if you take into account the possibility that she was acting on a “misunderstanding” of company policy, her actions display a gross indifference toward a child in danger. That is exactly why we have “failure to report” laws–because there are people out there who can’t make the value judgement that a child’s life is more important than their job… and because there are people who can’t understand what she did wrong.

  76. vladthepaler says:

    Good. Hope he does some time instead of just getting fined.