Officer Steve Dunham of the Franklin Ohio Police Department found a 7 year old boy who hadn’t eaten anything for days trying to sell his teddy bear for food on the street near a CVS Store on August 6. The officer spoke with the child and the boy was afraid that he would be in trouble but that was the last thing Officer Dunham wanted for him.
Officer Dunham took the bot to a local Subway and got him a meal; the two sat together said a little prayer and ate lunch together. After that the officer brought the child to Police headquarters where he sat and watched television as he was supervised by dispatchers in the 911 center and was entertained.
Meanwhile Other Officers Amanda Myers and Kyle O’Neal, went to the child’s home on Main Street, where they reported finding the boy’s two siblings living in a home full of garbage, cat urine and liquor bottles.
The initial report stated the parents created “a substantial risk of health and safety by neglecting the cleanliness in the residence, having a large amount of bugs and spoiled food throughout the residence, not having properly prepared and packaged food for the minor children to eat, and allowing a 7-year-old child to wander from the residence without their permission or knowledge, in an attempt to locate food.”
Apparently neither parent Tammy or Michael Bethel realized that their 7 year old child was even missing from the residence in search of food.
All together the Bethel family had 5 children and the Warren County Children Services did an emergency removal of all of the Bethel’s children and placed them with relatives. Judge Ruppert ordered that the parents were not to have any contact with their children.
Tammy and Michael Bethel are charged with five counts each of child endangering, all first-degree misdemeanors.
Officers see this nationwide everyday and they do go above and beyond to feed homeless, feed children … they treat people like their own family,” said Police Chief Russell Whitman. “You can look at your local police departments wherever you’re at and you can find stories like this.”
Officer Durham said “I came back to check on him (the 7 year old) and he was hiding. He jumped out to scare me when I came back in the building; he got me real good,” Dunham said. “(We) would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like (we’ve) done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact.”
The victim’s advocate sent the Franklin Police Department a thank-you note, commending them for going the extra mile to give a vulnerable child some comfort and safety. It was posted on the Franklin Ohio Police Department’s Facebook page and read as follows:
“We had a really sad child abuse case today and I wanted to say a special thank you to Officer Amanda Myers, Steve Dunham, Franklin dispatch, and Franklin Ohio Police Department.
We see sad cases all the time and sometimes it just feels like “another day in the life”, but you all fed this little boy and his brothers and made him feel safe in the middle of a nasty situation. I can’t imagine doing what you all do day in and day out. I know you do stuff like this for your community all the time and we don’t see or hear about it. The way you treated and took care of this little guy touched my heart. Thank you for taking the steps to not only keep him safe and healthy, but also going the extra mile to comfort him and show him that people care about him. I’m lucky to work beside officers like you.”
Victim Witness Advocate, Mrs Hawkins.
On August 12 the Chief of Police Russ Whitman congratulated his Officers on their humanitarian efforts and advised he community how they could help the children that were in need as the story had garnered quite a bit of attention through media. He posted the following through Facebook:
Great Job by Officers Dunham, Myers, O’Neal and Dispatcher Alvarez! A job well done!
St Vincent De Paul (SVDP), located at St Mary’s Church at 115 South Main Street Franklin, Ohio 45005, will be accepting monetary donations for the children involved in this week’s Child Neglect Case. SVDP assists several families with food, clothing, and auto repair in and around the Franklin area. Without volunteers like these, families would be finding themselves in worse situations than this one.
Monetary Donations can be sent via mail or dropped off at the St Mary’s Church. If you have any questions, you can call the SVDP Help line at 937-746-1355 and leave a message. Someone will return you call.
Thank you for all of the support!
Chief Russ Whitman
Tammy Bethel went on the Franklin police Facebook page Friday to say that her house is normally clean and the CVS where police found her son is very close to her home. She said the house was dirty after her kids had friends over in recent days.
“The cop just popped up on the wrong day I hadn’t had a chance to clean the mess that all them kids had made and yes I was arguing with my kids to help clean the mess up,” Bethel wrote. “BTW my kids didn’t even eat the food that the cops brought them because they had just ate.”
The social debate became so great and people became so angry that the Department had to start limiting discussions and post the following message by August 13th:
We enjoy good debates on our Facebook page, however foul language and threats of violence will not be tolerated.
What are your thoughts let us know.