“Serve and protect” took on a new meaning recently in Franklin.
Officer Steve Dunham found a 7-year-old boy Sunday afternoon in front of a CVS store at Second and Main streets trying to sell his stuffed animal. Police had responded to the scene after dispatchers were contacted by a resident. The boy told Dunham he hadn’t eaten in several days.
So the police officer took the boy across the street to a Subway restaurant, where he bought him something to eat before taking him to the police station.
Two 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.
In her initial report, Myers wrote that 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.”
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According to the police report, Tammy and Michael Bethel told police they had a 7-year-old son and did not realize he was not in the house.
Warren County Children Services did an emergency removal of all five of the Bethel’s children and placed them with relatives. Judge Rupert 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.
Both parents were arraigned Tuesday in Franklin Municipal Court and have pre-trial hearings set for Sept. 16.
“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.”
There have been 11 child neglect reports filed in 2016 with three that warranted investigation in Franklin, according to Whitman. The other eight were unfounded, he said.