Fort McCoy News December 13, 2013

Do not leave children unattended in vehicles at McCoy

Parents who leave their unattended children in vehicles at Fort McCoy will face more consequences than just endangering their children's safety and well-being.

Penalties can range from sanctions to possible state charges, depending upon the circumstances, said Maj. Chuepheng Lo, Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services police operations officer.

The installation policy is defined in Fort McCoy Memorandum 608-1, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Child Supervision for Fort McCoy. The document is available on the Fort McCoy Corporate Network under Fort McCoy Online Publications.

Paragraph 3d of the memorandum states that "at no time will a child under the age of 10 years be left unattended in any motorized vehicle. At no time will a child under 16 years be left unattended in a motorized vehicle that has the keys in the ignition and/or the engine running."

"Parents who do this could be charged with neglect or child endangerment," Lo said. "The police officer determines the penalty based on the severity of the danger a child is in based on the circumstances."

The issue was brought up for discussion at a recent Fort McCoy Safety and Occupational Health Advisory/Community Health Promotion Council quarterly meeting, said Tim Cumberworth, Installation Safety Office safety specialist.

Concern was expressed about parents leaving their children unattended in a car while going in to pick up another sibling at the installation's Child Development Center (CDC) or Youth/School Age Center facility, he said.

Jan Fink, Fort McCoy Child, Youth and School Services coordinator, emphasized that the memorandum applies throughout the installation, and not just at the CDC or the Youth/School Age Center facilities.

"It's tempting for parents to leave children unattended in vehicles while conducting other business such as going inside the (Exchange) to pay for gas or quickly going into the Commissary to pick up a few items," Fink said.

"In winter or anytime there is inclement (or hot) weather, with youth of any age, parents might think it is just easier to leave the children in the car, such as if they forgot something in the house, and if they are just going inside for a minute and then coming right back out. Children are actually at risk in these instances."

Parents need to be responsible and provide the level of supervision their children require, she said.

The policy also helps ensure that the best interest and safety of a child is taken into account.