Friday, April 3, 2015


 I am a hardened criminal! Yes I have been arrested. By the police. For being a terrible menace to society.

We had recently moved back to Detroit. My parents and brothers and sisters were still living there. We were fortunate enough to be able to rent the house next door to theirs.

My mother had a meeting one day and had asked me if I could pick up my sister from school because the high school she attended only had half a day of classes. My husband had the day off from work but our car was not running so I told her I was happy to help her but I had no transportation.

My father had an old pickup that he used for doing manly things. I could drive that. So I said I would.

My sister had been riding her bicycle the day before and took a really bad tumble. Her arm, leg, and side were covered with the results of the scraping on the street. Mom did not want her to walk all that way from school.

The day of picking up my sister I overslept. My daughter was a baby who also slept late but she was awake. When my eyes popped open I realized that I was going to have a hard time being there for my sister.

I grabbed my daughter from her crib wet diaper and all. We ran out the door and I drove fast to try to get to my sister's school. I was a bit late.

I saw my sister walking on the sidewalk near the school with a couple of her friends and pulled to a stop next to her. She asked if I could take the other two girls home too. I knew that would be too many people sitting in the pickup but it was only a short distance. What could it hurt?

I was pulled over by the police for having too many people in the truck. And I had run out of the house so fast that I had no driver's license with me. Not to mention that I had not transferred it from the state I moved from to Michigan.

Michigan expects you to take care of your driver's license practically before you move there so I was in big trouble.

The officer decided I was a flight risk so instead of giving me a ticket he arrested me. He left my baby daughter, my sister, and her two friends standing on a sidewalk in an unsafe area. They drove my father's truck around the block to park it in a safe place.

Daddy kept some old tires in the back of the pickup for weight in case of an emergency. The police carefully placed all those old scrap tires inside the truck so they would be safe. They left the girls standing on the street in an unsafe area.

They took me to a holding cell at the local precinct house. I had never been in jail before except as a joke when my father was a town marshal when I was a little girl. I settled down to wait for someone to come get me.

Now we had not been there long enough to have our telephone connected. It took a lot longer then because the phone company had to come out to hook it up. So my sister could not call my husband. My mother was at a meeting. Cell phones were not a thing then so she was not available. My father could not be reached either.

Somehow my sister finally got a call through to my mother. Mom started calling her house hoping that someone, anyone would answer.

My husband had gone to my parents' house looking for me. The boys were hungry. When the phone rang he answered and told my mother he would take care of everything.

He arranged for someone to rescue my daughter and my sister as well the other two girls. He called his brother and asked him to drive my husband to the police station to rescue me. Then he called the police station to tell them he was on the way with my driver's license.

In the meantime the police suddenly came to my little home away from home. They had received the call from my husband. They whisked me off to the main police station in downtown Detroit.

I was escorted to a place where they took a mug shot of me. They frisked me. Do you have any idea what is involved in being frisked?

Frisking is not a mild pat down like they show on television. Oh no. They check everywhere. I have had visits to the gynecologist that were less invasive. By this time I was becoming annoyed.

I did not know where my baby was. I did not know where my little sister was. I was being treated like a big time criminal. I forgot my driver's license and was giving some girls a ride home from school.

Then I went for fingerprinting.

The matron inked up my fingers and thumbs. She had the page where my fingerprints are to be stored forever. Then she said, " Relax."

Through clenched teeth I said, "I AM RELAXED!"

After that pleasant experience I was taken to my cell. I sat on the edge of the bed. The sheets were not white as I think they were supposed to be. The pillow had no covering. When I told my husband about the cell he was shocked. He said, " At least you got a sheet and a pillow. In the men's cells they often don't even have a mattress, just a slab of cement."

I dutifully paid my fines when the time came for me to come before the judge. I was guilty. I knew the laws and broke them.

However... I did file a complaint against the arresting officer. He knew the situation with the girls and did not see to their safety. They did take excellent care of my father's junky tires.

I received a letter from the department. Basically what they said was that it was an unfortunate situation but since I did break the law there was nothing more to be done. That was not what I complained about.

I received a phone call from one of the members of the city council. She was very nice. Then she asked me if I was satisfied with the decision. Of course I was not satisfied. She offered to help.

It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that endured until she died. She was older than I was (my mother's age and they became fast friends also) but I valued her friendship and she helped me in many ways.

With her help I pursued the matter. Eventually after a couple of years of hard work some changes were made.

It seems there was a young father who had dropped his wife off at work. He had his toddler daughter with him when he was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. When the police informed him that they were arresting him and he had to leave his baby he began to fight. Another charge against him.

At least my sister had my baby.

There were already provisions on the books for taking care of minor children if the parent was arrested and no other responsible adult was available. There were other provisions added. And the arresting officer was instructed to issue a written apology to me. Of course I never received it.

So relax. If you are arrested the police like it if you just relax.


  1. What an awful experience! You weren't arrested so much as kidnapped and held for ransom. I know there has been a lot of progress in law enforcement, but unfortunately there has been a lot of corruption as well. My experience with peace officers among friends and family has been quite positive and encouraging over the past few decades. The educational requirements have been raised to BA and officers are now trained in many field diagnostic tests --like determining whether someone is drunk or having a stroke. Because of efforts like yours over the years by many many people, things are getting better. Emma, thanks.

    1. My father was a marshal in two small towns. Up until that "unfortunate Incident" I had very little contact with the police. I do hope that things are getting better but because there are so many law enforcement people needed these days the potential for abuses is also greater.

  2. This piece was really well written Emma. You had me hooked after the title.

  3. Dear Emma, I always have the feeling that American cops have more power over those they arrest than ours here. To think of a situation as you describe it: horrible!

    1. In a corrupt city it is not beyond the imagination that the police would also be corrupt.

  4. OMG. Did it really happen?
    Well, we've learned from it. Relax. But I hope it won't happen again if it did.

    1. It did really happen just the way I told it. The fight to have the children in an arrest situation taken care of was a longer one and I might tell it in a future post.

  5. I feel terrified for the kids who were left. So who were they protecting by arresting you, leaving the kids unsafe? The law?- aren't laws made to ptotect people? But in your case, yiu were not hurting anyone. Yes maybe you violated the law by having more people than in the truck than you should. But couldn't they have waited for someone to come for the kids before they took you? Ugh, that was a terrible experience really, plus the fact that you have your records forever.

    1. Those were my points exactly. The terrifying thing is that my arrest was situation was not unusual. Where was the welfare for the children? And most people do not know that if they, for instance, look out their window and see their child being put into a police car the police are not required to explain what is happening nor do the police have to allow the parents to ride along. The children is what I care for.

    2. They are not required to explain what's happening, but hey you have all the rights to know as a parent. Wow I cannot believe this is happening. It's one thing if I just hear or read it from media but this is another when I read it from a civilian who had experienced something like that.

    3. A lot of what I learned while doing research in my fight to have children taken care of is totally shocking. Things that would cause me to lose custody of my children are commonly practiced by those in authority. Parents need to know these things.

  6. While I don't doubt at all that things really happened as you said in this post, Emma, it became more unsettling the more I continued reading. Thankfully, I have never been in any situation even close to yiurs. To know that young children were left unattended whike a "criminal" was arrested was outrageous to read and because it actually happened was much worse. Did your arrest record ever get expunged?

    1. My arrest record was no expunged. I did not ask for that because I did break the law. I accepted my punishment because it was just. What happened to the children was not just.