By Melissa Face
I ignored my ringing phone, a number I didn’t recognize anyway, and hopped in the shower. A few minutes later, my husband popped his head in the bathroom door.
“You missed all the fun,” he said. “Our security alarm has been going off. It wouldn’t take my code, and the police just left a few minutes ago.”
“That explains the unfamiliar phone number on my caller ID,” I told him. “It must have been the alarm company, and I ignored it.”
My husband, Craig, went on to explain that the alarm started screaming, and it wouldn’t accept our 4-digit code after several attempts. And because I didn’t answer my phone, the police were automatically dispatched.
Three Prince George County officers showed up at our house, questioned my husband, and asked for proof of identification. Once they were confident we were indeed the homeowners, they came into the foyer and chatted for a while with my husband and our two children. After a few minutes, they wished us a nice evening and headed on their way.
Craig and I were glad that they had left on a positive note. They didn’t seem annoyed with us at all. Still, we were stumped about what had happened. We wondered what triggered the alarm, and we considered that perhaps it was malfunctioning. I decided I would call the alarm company the next morning.
When I was getting ready for bed that evening, I noticed a small, black object on my pillow. It was the remote to our security system. I keep it in the drawer of my nightstand in case of an emergency. Someone had obviously accessed it.
Craig and I called our children into the bedroom for questioning. “I didn’t do it,” said our six-year-old, Evan. “I promise. I know that’s only for emergencies.”
“I not do it either,” said three-year-old Delaney. Then, she took off down the hallway toward the playroom.
My husband and I exchanged a knowing look and went after Delaney. She denied pressing the button several more times before finally admitting she had done it.
“I’m sorry,” she squeaked. But it was clear that she really didn’t understand what she had done. Craig and I agreed that we would try to find a way to help her understand that alarms are only for emergencies, and we cannot waste the time or resources of law enforcement.
About a week later, I decided that I would take Delaney to the police station so that she could apologize in person. But first we stopped at our local bakery and bought fresh doughnuts to take with us. I wanted to have her apologize for her actions and also thank the officers for responding to our home so quickly.
When we arrived at the station, the receptionist took our information and asked us to wait in the lobby. A few minutes later, four officers stepped out and introduced themselves.
Delaney was a bit overwhelmed by the sight of several officers in uniform, but she quickly got herself together, told them her name, and explained why we were there.
“I pressed the button,” she said. “And I sorry.” The officers were very appreciative of her apology and the treats we brought with us. They gave Delaney special coloring books and her very own badge to wear. She chatted happily with them and told them all about her brother and some recent boo-boos she had gotten.
Before we left, a staff member took pictures of Delaney with the officers and later that day, the pics were uploaded to social media with a really nice caption about our visit. It turned out to be a very positive experience.
I wanted Delaney to learn responsibility for her actions, but I also realize she is only three. It’s hard to tell if it was truly a teachable moment or if she thinks that pressing the alarm button is a great idea – one that will result in another awesome field trip to the Prince George County Police Department.