Thursday, January 31, 2013
By James Lomuscio
Amid public sympathy for a Westport mother arrested last week after her unwatched 2-year-old daughter wandered into the frigid cold while her 15-year-old brother slept, Westport police today provided additional details about the incident.
Tinatin Crouch, 43, was arrested after neighbors found the child in her pajamas and slippers in freezing temperatures on Murvon Road, crying for her mother. Charged with risk of injury to a minor, she posted a $500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Today, Capt. Sam Arciola put the arrest into the perspective of the officers on the scene, as well as that of the neighbors on Murvon Road, a private road near Compo Beach.
“When the neighbors heard the child crying and screaming for her mother in the middle of the street, with no jacket, wearing slippers and in her pajamas and it’s 20 degrees out, they didn’t know where the child belonged,” Arciola said.
“If they did, they would have immediately returned her. They made sure the child was safe, and they contacted the Police Department.”
He added that responding officers always “consider the totality of the circumstances” prior to making a decision for an arrest.
Attempts to reach Crouch via a relative to hear her side of the story were unsuccessful.
“In this particular situation the 15-year-old was sick and sleeping, and the mother left the house knowing the 15 –year-old was asleep, believing the father would be home in a reasonable amount of time,” Arciola said.
“It appears that the 2-year-old had woken up, didn’t know what was going on and appeared to be looking for her mother.
“It’s not as if she left the 15-year-old in charge and he fell asleep,” he added.
“He was sick and sleeping. In this particular case, all the weight was put on the mother’s decision to leave the house under these particular circumstances. Fortunately, we had a very positive outcome on this, and we were able take her to safety and to where the child belonged.”
But what about parents who feel comfortable leaving a child as young as 12 at home and in charge, while the parent, like Crouch, who was gone 45 minutes, make a trip to the grocery store?
“It depends on the maturity of the child,” Arciola said. “Everybody navigates around that 12-year-old idea, but a parent really has to evaluate the level of responsibility of a child and maturity before they can be left alone.”
A number of comments on local websites, including WestportNow, argued that most young children are left with older siblings while parents are out, not to mention that the average age of babysitters is around 15.
Also, they have been critical of the Police Department, saying it overreacted, and critical of the neighbors, too, for not being community minded enough to take the child home.
Posted 01/31/13 at 05:01 PM
The more the police comment on this, the more it reads like they screwed up.
Through work I’ve been involved in this issue before. As Sam Arciola said it really comes down to the entire situation and what the officers find when they arrive at the scene.
It doesn’t depend really on the age of the person watching but on the situation that the police find when they arrive.
On the contrary, this sheds much more light on it; the mother was entirely responsible in this situation. She knowingly left her 2 year old w/ her older child, sick and asleep and look what happened. That’s completely irresponsible. She “thought” her husband was going to arrive home? Well, guess what, he didn’t. If she thought so, she should have waited for him prior to leaving.
The original article made it sound as if the onus was on the 15 year old. Turns out, it wasn’t.
Also, the mom wasn’t available by phone for a relative to reach her.
Good thing the youngster didn’t walk into the pathway of an oncoming car, or the water.
The neighbors did the right thing and so did WPD