Cracking down to maintain decorum at a playground complex popular among families with young children, police in a small Michigan town have resorted to the legal equivalent of a parent threatening to wash a child's mouth with soap.
Colin Andersen, 19, of Brighton found that out the expensive, $200 way. A Livingston County magistrate fined him that amount for reportedly dropping the F-bomb in the vicinity of the Imagination Station playground, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus in Howell reports.
The city of Brighton doesn’t have a specific law prohibiting the utterance of certain word, but its disorderly conduct law includes “language that causes a breach of peace.”
Anderen got the disorderly conduct charge after he reportedly mumbled under this breath, “This is f------ bull----” when his friend was ticketed for skateboarding in a prohibited area and the two were asked to leave.
He said they were “just standing around” and that no children overheard him swear.
Perhaps not, Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman told the newspaper, but it was audible enough that a police officer overheard him.
For it to have been mumbled "would require an officer with some incredible hearing,” Wightman said in a court hearing after Andersen fought the disorderly conduct charge.
Groups of teenagers and young adults hanging out in the downtown area has reportedly been an “ongoing problem," and playground users have complained to police about rowdy behavior by teenagers and adults in the area, Wightman told the newspaper.
He said all groups are welcome at the downtown pavilion and Imagination Station venue as long as they observe prevailing codes of conduct set by the people who use the area.
He said local police are particularly committed to the protection of young children.
“Older teens and young adults who choose to ‘hang out’ near the children’s area need to know that their conduct will be carefully scrutinized,” he said.
The ticket is the first blemish on Andersen’s record, and he said doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
At the most, he said, he should have been given a warning.If the officer had done that, Andersen swears he “would have respected his authority.”