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Dad Arrested For Picking Up Kids At School By Foot 120

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Screenshot from YouTube video of Jim Howe being arrested for picking up his children on foot

A Tennessee father was arrested recently by an overzealous officer for picking his children up at school by foot. The school’s policy is that children can only be picked up by parents driving cars or kids can board a school bus.

Parents who wish to pick up their children on foot or by bike are apparently shit out of luck. Thankfully I don’t live in Cumberland County, Tennessee, because they would have a fight on their hands.

Jim Howe became concerned about the long line-up of cars that extended over a mile on a busy highway. So he decided to pick up his children by foot, and was told by the school to go back to his car and wait in line like everybody else.


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Here are the more compliant parents, waiting patiently in line to pick up their children:

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Photo courtesy of Channel 6 WATE News Clip

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Screenshot from YouTube video of Jim Howe being arrested

The school provided Howe a form to fill out that would permit his children to leave the school alone (his children are 8 years old and 14 years old), but they wouldn’t release his children to him until after the long line-up of cars was gone – to presumably encourage him to get his car and sit in line like a compliant sheep.

Here is the dialogue leading up to the arrest:

Officer: “Guess what. Guess what. It’s the rules. No we’re not going to argue about it”

Howe: “Here’s a rule, here’s a TCA code. School is out, my children are to be given to me. When school is out.”

Officer: “It don’t say when. They have, they have, they have, they have. No, no, no. School is out. They will give you your child, but it doesn’t say when now does it.”

Howe: “Tennessee state law says within a reasonable amount of time, that is 15 minutes.”

Officer: “Put your hands behind your back.”

Howe: “Okay, no problem. Go ahead. Opening yourself up for a lawsuit.”

Officer: “I’m not staying here arguing with you. Disorderly”

Howe: “That is fine with me”

After going outside, the officer scolds the cameraperson (presumably Howe’s partner) and threatens to arrest her if she doesn’t get out of the way of traffic.

Here is the full video:

Is this how far car culture has gone? It is depressing enough to see a long line-up of cars waiting to pick up children from school, but to prohibit parents from picking up their children on foot or by bike? This is beyond ludicrous.

Every time I witness such a sad spectacle, I reminisce on the lovely scene I witnessed in Amsterdam last year. When school is out, parents socialize in the school yard, and not a single parent pulled up a car to pick up their child.

Amsterdam school pick-ups by bike

Amsterdam school pick-ups – Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

This always revives my hope for the future of our society. But how much more enslaved by car culture will our society become before we start heading down a more rational, logical path, creating more healthy, liveable places to work, live and play.

James D. Schwartz is the Editor of The Urban Country and is based in Toronto, Canada. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • crank

    That. Is. INSANE.

  • JohnFraser

    That redneck sheriff is just wonderful. The world would be a little boring if we didn’t have our plump little American friends to liven things up with displays of mule-headed dumbness from time to time.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca Octavian

    It may have something to do with the perceived safety of children. I’m thinking something like kidnapping or child predators. Again, this would probably be perceived, not real, circumstances.
    Either way, it doesn’t excuse the behaviour or the “rules”. What the school effectively did was kidnapping.
    This is a very strong argument in favour of home-schooling.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I don’t think there is any logic here, other than the school wanting parents to sit patiently in the car line. Whether the person walks up or drives up, the school still needs to verify that the parent is the child’s parent. Furthermore, the form that they wanted him to fill out was consent to let his children leave school property by themselves. So if the issue was children’s safety, they wouldn’t have pushed that form to him.

      At the end of the day I think the school was just pissed off because he wouldn’t wait in line like everybody else, so they were trying to stick it to him by not releasing his kids…

      • Knut Iversen

        ist that a contradiction? If the school could not verify who the father was, why did he then have to fill in a form to release the children (only a parent could sign that I guess!)

      • El Aura

        The question how does it inconvenience the school if a parent ‘jumps the line’ in this way? It’s a bit like somebody ‘jumping’ the line by only having carry-on baggage and nothing to check in when they take a flight.

        Only in some very minor ways (eg, not having the license plate as an additional identification, if they even use that at all). There is only one understandable semi-reason I can think of. That is to prevent people from parking their car nearby causing disruption by chaotic parking or endangering their children by crossing a road for the parent’s benefit of to not having to wait as long. But that shouldn’t really be the school’s responsibility.

        • Will Davis

          I think clogging the side streets by the schools is preferable to a queue clogging the highway intersections where 100x the traffic is disrupted instead.

    • LegalCat

      Right, because kidnappers and child predators are well known to not have cars.

      • Julian Andres Guarin

        Touche

  • ReadandFeed

    What if a parent doesn’t own a car and regularly walks or cycles and wants to encourage their children to do the same? Going to be a bunch of fat kids at that school.

    • Gregory Wahl

      You obviously have never been to Tennessee! ;)

      • ReadandFeed

        Good point, I haven’t :) But I have lived in rural Ontario where car culture rules (people don’t even walk a km) and there are a lot of fat kids there.

        • Gregory Wahl

          Yep– from Buffalo myself, and understand that completely. Even in urban TN, which is more like a giant suburb, cars rule– apparently enough to cause this ruckus!

      • Astrid

        I lived in Tennesse for three years (I’m German) and fortunately never made this kind of experience. I would have gotten livid.

  • Stuart Gairns

    What a petty, officious little cunt… clearly revelling in the modicum of power his job affords him.
    It’s arseholes like that that gassed the jews

  • Laxeger

    Don’t you just love living in the great nation of the USA. I never heard of such foolishness that these schools make up for rules! No wonder they have so many shootings in that country. It sure is a black eye to their system of doing things!!!

    • SurlyGurl

      Please do not lump Tennessee in with the rest of the country. Every state is different. Heck things are different from county to county. Glad I don’t live in Cumberland County!

      • SparksinKY

        Preach! I’m from Tennessee and moved to Kentucky. The stereotypes the rest of the country/world has about us are laughable.

        • sorrybuttrue

          Well umm. . . this disnt help your case. . .

  • Richard Johns

    I may have misunderstood, but it seems that Howe could have signed a form to allow his kids to walk home by themselves (not be picked up). Howe could then (presumably) meet his kids as they exit the school and walk home with them. Then Howe would be (de facto) picking them on foot, but officially the kids would be leaving independently. The only difference would be that no school official would be verifying the hand-over of care from school to parent.

    I’m not exactly sure why Howe sought a confrontation, rather than do this. Most likely he’s highlighting the silliness of the rule that says that the school has to monitor each child as the parent collects them.

    • Salts

      But he did not want to give his children permission to leave without him, that’s the part he objected to. There would probably be some day where he would be late picking them up and had he signed that form the school in all likelihood would send his kids off on their own because the father had signed the release form so that if something happened to them it would be his fault for signing the form, not their’s for letting the kids go.

      • Richard Johns

        I guess you’re right. But can a school really keep track of kids after they leave their classroom? Do they hold them together in a pen? I’ve never heard of that. Why would Howe want his kids to be part of such a system?

        If Howe wants his kids to wait at school till he picks them up, then he can arrange that with his kids.

        • Salts

          GIven the absurd circumstances, I would not be surprised if this particular school would more or less force the kids off campus, despite Howe’s instruction for the kids to stay there until he arrives had he signed the form.

          No form should have to be signed for what happens after the last bell rings, and the school should be a safe place for kids to wait if their parents are late.I think he did the right thing by not signing the form.

  • salts

    FREEDOM!

  • aliciakennison

    Just wow… I’m in Australia where schools have competitions to increase the number of people who walk to school each day rather than taking cars. This just blows my mind. What a joke.

    • Bernd Boes

      Being a teacher myself and seeing the same problem with more and more traffic – do you have some example of those competitions to make people change their attitude? I would be very interested in taking a chance to put some ideas to the test here…

      • Stephen Moore
      • Kaz of Oz
      • Gaynor

        We have them in the UK too, my daughter got a pencil case and glow in the dark stickers from the organisers- basically they had a tick chart and kids were allowed to tick off every day they walked or cycled to school in the month, and those who did every day got a prize.

      • Lena

        Cycling, walking, and going by car when leaving or fetching your kids is all normal in Sweden, but In some places we also have parents getting together and taking turns bringing a bunch of kids to school. So you walk them lets say one day a week and the other days it’s taken care of by some other parent.

      • Christina Anthony

        I would think not threatening to arrest them might be some good incentive… what an embarrassment the school administrators of this country are becoming. Sad.

      • S Copiene

        There’s a lot of great resources already available in the US, they just don’t get a lot of attention.

        Here’s a good starting place for resources
        http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

    • Bernd Boes

      Wow, that was quick. Thanks a lot! :)

  • Kris

    Wow unreal. I’d hate to see that cop if someone actually got confrontational. Without that uniform that guy is just another loser. What a stupid rule god forbid people get a little exercise and walk or bike with their kids. By the looks of it that cop should walk each kid to their parents vehicle he could use to lose a few lbs. What a waste of tax payers money. Protect and serve my ass I’m sure nothing will happen to that idiot and he will go on his marry little way.

  • Jimbo

    uhhhh.. when I was in elementary school, I always walked the mile to and from school alone or with friends, parents back then couldn’t give two shits what we did after school as long as we show up for dinner. This has far less to do with car culture than paranoid parenting. When did kids become such inept little turds that they can’t even walk a couple blocks? Must be genetics…

    • Har Davids

      You make it sound as if the kids are to blame and not their petrol-headed, paranoid parents and teachers. If you have a drive-through to get your dose of junk-food, why not one to pick up your kids? Actions like these may mean that un-motorized travel will soon be illegal in some parts of the world.

      • TURNERO

        “Actions like these may mean that un-motorized travel will soon be illegal in some parts of the world.”

        By some parts of the world you must only mean the US since no other country has the same reliance on cars as the US or willingness to go against common sense.

        • la_gune

          Have you ever been to Germany ? It´s almost the same !
          You only don´t get arrested, if you want to pick up your kids by foot. But that´s the only difference…

          • Reality

            I live in Germany, across the street from a school, and I see the kids every day walking home, or riding their bikes, or even being escorted to the train by their teachers, unless their parents come to pick them up, again by foot, or bike, or train, or car… so… yeah.

    • Jim_in_Denver

      My understanding is that the child of this man is a “special needs” student and most likely shouldn’t be walking home alone.

      • porkybits

        The child was not walking home alone, the article states he was going to walk home with his father.

        • Jim_in_Denver

          Yes, I am aware. I was responding to the comment above who basically said “This is about paranoid parenting… when I was a kid I used to walk a mile to school, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.”

  • Benjamin Osgood

    Only in America. No wonder the whole world is justified in laughing at us. This is embarrassing.

  • sjokolademelk

    That’s fucking retarded

  • SparksinKY

    Not surprising. I’m from Tennessee. In 5th grade my parents sent me to a private school with similar rules. On my very first day, my dad got chastised for trying to park across the street and walk in to get me, rather than line up and wait. Even though he already had me and we were walking to the parking lot that was just a street-crossing away from his car, the crossing guard made me turn back and go wait by the school while he got in line. It took an extra 15 minutes probably and I ended up being one of the last ones to get picked up, just standing there alone in my new kid awkwardness.

    • Ivana

      That is just UNBELIEVABLE. Idiocy at its purest O_O

      • JMR

        The further you go south of the Mason Dixon line, the lower the IQ of the authorities.

        • teralee sampson

          The sherriff was the messenger, criticise the people at the schools who make such unhealthy, un-environmentally friendly rules.

          • Justizin

            The sherriff was woefully misbehaving, to arrest a parent for demanding access to their children for “Disorderly”?! Just another case of a cop who doesn’t know the law and believes the nearest school administrator’s word is the law, which it isn’t.

    • r00fus

      A private school – amazing your parents put up with that bullshit. That would be an immedate enticement for me (as a parent) to get my kid out of that kind of institution.

      • rogerpenna

        Public schools may try to teach your kid about EVOLUTION. That is much worse on the eyes of someone from Tenesee than having to wait on a ridiculous line of cars to get your kid.

  • Melisme

    If I ever choose to live somewhere and my kids grow up not being able to walk to school and play in streets and gardens without constant adult supervision and interference, I believe I’ve failed as a parent.

  • HardHabits

    The USA is becoming a sh*t hole of obsessive control freaks

  • CptHollywood

    It must be great to live in the FREE WORLD. Land of the Free! They have so many bullshit laws in place…pretty much a fascist society.

    • MrsD

      We stopped being the land of the free when we let fear take over. We have slowly given over our freedoms for the illusion of safety. This seems like its its issue control rather than safety, that’s always the next step. Not until the people smarten up, educate themselves before a vote, will we have our freedoms back!

  • bob

    who gives a fuck about america

    • bobisrude

      Oh thats helpful.

  • the_lemur

    Parents should stage a protest and pick up their kids on foot or by bike, just to show how absurd this rule is. See if the cops are willing to arrest them all.

  • Michael Phillips

    Parents wait in line or make your children ride the school bus.

    • concerned

      how stupid is that.. what are you related to the dumb cop?

      • me

        so I have no car, and I am too close for bussing. ? now what?

  • Nik Edmiidz

    I had a similar experience walking from Point Roberts, WA to Tsawwassen, BC. The Canadian border patrol told me to stand in the middle of the road in between all the cars, because that was the rules for waiting in line.

    • LotusGirl

      That’s horrible!

  • Dévorah Saouyin Corona

    It is absurd, what if they don’t have a car or if it’s in the shop? I just can’t get over it… He doesn’t know confrontational, he should meet my dad, he would have probably walked in and taken me after kicking that cops ass, nobody was gonna keep him away from his little girl and in all honesty that’s how it should be… This is absolutely ridiculous!!!!

    • Cyriaque

      This is the result of the MADNESS process the western world is gone into. ENSLAVING parent for the sake of CHILDREN protection…RIDICULOUS!!!
      Here in Africa, kids walk miles to go to school and nothing happens. You say we are not living in the same environment, so if we chose to raise our kids by giving ALL the rights and NO obligations, we should just SHUT UP and be SLAVE. Africans fought a long time for the SLAVERY abolition, NOW western world is fighting to ENSLAVE themselves.

    • Billy

      Never met the bloke but I’d like to shake your dads hand.

      We let the school borrow our children from 0900-1515 so they can (hopefully) teach them what we can’t. Outside those hours, get the hell out of our lives until we choose to let you.

      Always had a soft spot for the ‘Mericans but seriously people, what happened to you? Jones, Allen, Jefferson and FDR would not have wanted their people living like this.

  • hubs

    the most stupid cop EVER!!! they should check his IQ, if he’s suitable for the job…

  • LotusGirl

    This is so embarrassing. The thinking is so backward. If more people walked/cycled, you wouldn’t have such a backup on the motorway. It would be a win/win for everyone. No wonder the ex-pat population is growing. Any place is better than living there.

  • Roberto

    fascism

  • luke

    land of the free, what a joke

  • Baconcheese burger

    Fuck the rules, fuck this mindless shit.

  • Julie

    Gee and I thought America was ‘home of the free’ sounds more like a dictatorship to me

    • Marcel Popescu

      America is a democracy, which is a form of dictatorship where you get a chance to change the dictator every four years. (One of the titles of the US president is “commander in chief” – it’s in the constitution.)

      • BadBetty

        Actually America is a republic, not a democracy…..but, whatever.

  • Vuohiherra

    In Finland we have this thing called reilu meininki. My kids are 10 and 8 and they stay at home alone when we go to work earlier than their schools begin, they go to their schools by bikes or walking and they come back while we are still working.

    Why on earth someone is picking the 14-year old from school with car in first place? Isn´t there any public transport available? On bicycles or something?

    • April

      There are huge areas of the United States with no public transportation. None. And where it would be dangerous to ride your bicycle.

    • BadBetty

      In America we have this thing called media and 24 hour news that broadcasts ONLY the horrible things that happen in all 50 states in order to scare you so you never let your children out of your sight. You would not believe how kids don’t even play in their own neighborhoods anymore or the parks without parental supervision. Now, we have laws where kids cannot be home alone under the age of 12 or parents could be charged with neglect. Nice, right?

      • Helge

        Weird. In Norway, kids walk home from school unsupervised. (Or ride a bus if more than 5km) Some parents pick up kids by car – but that is only to save time. It is not considered a necessity.

        • ME-B

          Read The Culture of Fear. It’s quite eye-opening

    • Will Davis

      nation of fear + lack of independence (or at the least, encouragement of independence)

  • Math

    Greetings from Holland with laughter!

  • frank

    i live in amsterdam, parents go on bike, its not even seen as a positive to go with a car when you live around the corner #somuchtolearn

  • J.A.PRUFROCK

    Its almost like their not aware they’re the fattest nation on earth.

  • Guest

    Ah, Tennessee…winning since never.

  • Ty

    My guess is the school doesn’t want a bunch of adults they don’t know in the building while students are still there for safety reasons.

    • the_lemur

      That could just as easily happened with adults arriving by car …

  • rol247

    Can’t wait until this piece of shit crap country finally goes down.

  • MVMn

    This is beyond absurd.

  • Fred’s Head

    What the h does “by foot” mean? Or is car culture so pervasive that people have forgotten the expression “on foot”?

  • Luc Beaudry

    Cycling is high on my list of good things, and when I read about this “rule” and this arrest I think: “we can do better”. I also think there’s a big assumption in the article. What if none of this has to do with car culture? Begin discussing ;)

  • Christina Anthony

    how insane are the adults in this country becoming???? When I would go get my grandkids from school here in Texas, I don’t wait in the drive line, I park on the street, walk down, let the teacher know I’m taking them and off we go… this cop, that school… they are nuts!! This father should be able to have his children… and what kind of trauma do you think the kids experienced watching their dad get arrested just because he cares about them??? We need help, common sense help.

  • http://jeromegelb.brandyourself.com/ Repeatedly Outraged

    It’s all about control and the abuse of power to maintain control at all costs. What happened here is repeated in countless ways across the U.S. Think of it as a top down phenomenon: the public see the U.S. Government spending the last 40yrs turning 2.25 million Americans at any one time into incarcerated felons, 70% for simple possession of recreational drugs. 25% of the world’s prison population but only 3% of the global human population proves that authoritarian control is a crucial tool in the U.S. political class’ desperate effort to prevent personal freedom from really being achieved. Take your pick, TSA, NSA, CIA, DEA, ATF, Militarised SWAT Teams, etc…..the U.S. Government distrusts its own citizens, neighbours distrust neighbours, petty police distrust everyone! The cop tries to enforce a moronic regulation without engaging his brain and responds to the slightest challenge with outrageous power-tripping and threats and acts as if a bank robbery is in progress. When PUBLIC SERVANTS think it’s ok to treat citizens like this, all our freedoms are put at risk!!

  • tkeen

    What happened to the school buses?I was taking buses at 14, and walking home from school at 8.

  • http://www.longren.org/ Tyler Longren

    Wow, sounds like a few state troopers I’ve had run-ins with. All seem to be the type of people who were picked on in school and now get to carry a gun daily. Not good.

  • Christopher Johnson

    I agree this was stupid. Common sense should have ended this debate before it made it to a video on the internet, but I’d also like to point out, most places aren’t like this. This isn’t America. It is one town in the middle of Tennessee. If it was everywhere, it wouldn’t be news. Plus, this is the biggest stretch to consider bicycling news.

  • dsgsdg

    Is there a way to donate to this guys cause or fund or whatever?

  • Jacqui Garcia-Bowman

    Because having 300 adults picking up 300+ kids by foot would in no way be more dangerous or chaotic. Noooooooo…

    • the_lemur

      It could be chaotic, but that could be addressed by organization. Maybe it would be worthwhile to look at places where 300 parents do indeed pick up 300+ kids. And as for dangerous, 300 people jockeying for position, looking for parking, eager to get away quickly … more potential for danger than most scenarios involving 300-odd pedestrians.

  • http://ChadRiden.com/ Chad Riden

    way to go, redneck clown sheriff! Maybe TN can be on The Daily Show again. Thanks for making us all look like idiots.

  • me

    the charge for the officer and the school district? kidnapping, interference with parent or guardian, wrongful arrest, defamation.

  • riiight

    He didn’t ‘pick his kids up on foot’. He DROVE to school, dumped his car on the road to walk one block and then load his kids in the car, pull an illegal U-ey, and DRIVE them home.
    There’s a difference and a context here that you’re all missing.

    • Reaverbait

      Did you see where he parked his car? Did you see him park illegally (as you must have done in order to know he “dumped” the car)? Did the people at the gate refusing to let him take his children know the car was parked illegally and that he had nefarious plans for illegal U-turns while the children were in the car?
      Did the Officer Of The Law know all this, or was he just being a petty bully confusing ‘school red tape’ with ‘the law’?

  • reitama

    Here in New Zealand i walk down and wait in the hallway or outside in the ground, when school finishes the kids are let go…some (god forbid you guys in the USA) even walk home by themselves…..just like i did over 30 years ago…..

  • Joe_the_Troll

    Car culture isn’t the problem here. Cop culture is. It is no longer “protect and serve,” it is “intimidate and harass.” This cop needs to be fired and never work as a cop again.

  • Dill Do

    Oh man americans are stupid. Not all of them, but too many…

  • Pavel Šimek

    You have to pick up a 14yo kids from school in US? Isn’t it a bit crazy? I had my first motorcycle that age. I always traveled to school alone since I was 7yo old – by bus, tram or subway. Europe is a bit different…

  • Sureyya Uslu

    This policeman reminds me of Harold and Kumar.

  • Mike Brason

    Surprising. This is the kind of rule they apply only to arrest only black people…

  • Fausto

    Well, if they bend the rules for one person, everyone might start doing it…

  • aanonn

    MADNESS.
    “only in America”

  • Erin

    I don’t think this is a matter of being “enslaved by car culture,” but a matter of fear and paranoia driving our society. Something happens to a child, the school gets sued, ridiculous rules are put in place to avoid further lawsuits. There is much more at work here than people simply being slaves to driving. That being said, it is a shame all around. I walked to school everyday until I was 12.

  • Zazzels

    When I first read the headline I thought this is definitely a joke. It can’t be true. Till I saw the video.
    How did I survive my childhood? Started walking from and to school alone when I was between 7 and 8.
    Since the 9/11 the “world” has surrendered to fear.

  • Stephen Hinkle

    I think he did not commit a crime for walking to pick up their child. I bet if this goes to trial, the father will win hands-on. It is more likely the school district insurance policy forbids walking.

  • Lucy

    That’s stupid wtf