SPOKANE, Wash. — A man is in the Spokane County Jail after attempting to take a child from their mother at Hoopfest last weekend.
The Spokane Police Department said child abductions are rare in our area. But when they do happen, especially at major events in the city, the police and event organizers have plans in place to respond.
“We’re working with the event planners. They have complete access to us and we have complete access to them,” Sergeant Terry Preuninger said.
Anytime a child goes missing, Preuninger said you can expect a maximum response from police.
“Whether that’s an abduction from a neighborhood on a regular day or something down at Hoopfest, when that call comes in, any officer that’s within, in the case of Hoopfest walking or running distance, is going to get there," Preuninger said.
He said the people who helped detain 26-year-old Peter Wilson, who attempted to take a child from their mother at Hoopfest last weekend, they did so in a reasonable manner.
“When somebody does something wrong, it’s good that good people step up and do what’s supposed to be done,” Preuninger said.
But it’s always good for parents and their children to be prepared. Preuninger recommends parents talk to their children ahead of going out into public about where or who to go to if they feel unsafe.
“You need to have a plan in place if your cell phone isn’t working, or you can’t find mom and dad," Preuninger said. "So, let’s start with the police. That’s the person you would go to or a firefighter, or someone in uniform. Even someone with an event shirt on or vendor.”
Preuninger said your child should throw their polite manners out the window if they think someone is going to harm them or take them.
“If you think someone is trying to take you, physically restrain you, then you need to scream and yell," Preuninger said. "You need to fight. Say, 'this is not my mom, or I don’t want to go with this person'.”
Preuninger doesn’t recommend putting yourself in danger. But if you see a child fighting to get away from someone, it is ok to ask what is going on, if everything is ok, and let police know.