12:42 am - Sunday April 20, 2014

FELDER: Piedmont pays the price for Channel 9′s laziness

Ben Felder

It’s a story that seems to show what’s wrong with government, but, in reality, it’s an example of what’s wrong with journalism.

The headline Tuesday at NewsOn6.com was the kind that television news stations dream about: “Piedmont Boy, 3, Gets $2,500 Ticket For Urinating In His Front Yard.”

The initial thought of viewers is outrage, and rightfully so. Ticketing a young child for not being able to control his bladder is inexcusable. That is, until you actually hear the facts, which sadly TV news stations hardly provide.

“A three year old gets his mother in trouble with the law when he gets a ticket from police,” said Channel 9 news anchor Kelly Ogle. The problem is the ticket wasn’t issued to the boy, but instead his mother. It’s a small fact but the truth wouldn’t have produced as flashy a lead.

“Now the little boy’s mother will have to pay thousands of dollars,” anchor Amanda Taylor followed.

Again, it’s fodder ripe for TV sensationalism, but still not true. Piedmont police chief Alex Oblein confirmed Tuesday morning that the amount written on the ticket was the maximum bond and that if the mother did have to pay a fine it would most likely be significantly cheaper.

In fact, Oblein called later in the morning to say charges had been dropped by the district attorney, a move that Channel 9 will no doubt take credit for.

Oblein returned my phone call Tuesday morning, something Channel 9 said they were unable to do the day before. Oblein said the news report made it sound like the officer was a nuisance to neighbors by parking at the end of the street for the last few days. However, the officer was on Ryan Street because police had received complaints from residents that teenagers were damaging cars, even urinating on them. Police were present because they were listening to citizens, not antagonizing them, Oblein said.

Oblein said he has spoken with the officer who said the child was led to the end of the driveway by a teenage family member who instructed young Dillian to pull down his pants and urinate. The officer didn’t actually see the boy pee, but Oblein said the teenager was aware of the officer’s presence and that he may have antagonized the officer. After talking with Oblein, it does sound like the officer could have handled the situation better. He may have been rude and confrontational, a demeanor Oblein has said he wants to change since arriving in Piedmont last summer.

Now, I don’t blame the mother for being outraged. I would probably be equally as mad if I were in her shoes. But the police have worked with the family to drop the charges, and even though Channel 9 reported that the police refused to take a complaint from the family, Oblein said that is not the case and that a complaint was taken Monday.

The mother complained on TV that she should have a right to do whatever she wants on her private property and another family member joked that should include peeing in their front yard if they so choose.

“You can’t just do anything on private property,” Oblein said. “When you are in public view of others, there are some restrictions.”

Was the officer inappropriate in writing the ticket? It’s hard to say. Could he have been more professional? It sounds like he could have. Does there need to be better communication between police and citizen? Sure.

I understand the family’s frustration, but my frustration comes from the fact that this is yet another example of why my industry is suffering.

A three-year-old may have urinated in his front yard, but Channel 9 just urinated all over Piedmont because, just like the majority of TV-based news operations, they understand that facts and effort don’t help ratings.



Filed in: Opinion/Ideas

93 Responses to “FELDER: Piedmont pays the price for Channel 9′s laziness”

  1. leslie doyle
    November 6, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Thank you Ben for getting all the facts. It does cast Piedmont in a very “hick town” light, once again. But as always, there are 2 sides to every story.

    • Aubrey
      November 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      So what exactly makes this okay? Even after reading the story with both sides? Nothing changes my thoughts on the situation. So basically your head line does exactly what you are accusing Channel 9 news of doing. Channel 9 is doing a story on an incident, they called Piedmont to get their side, and they didn’t call back before the story went live.

      Still think the story is outrageous and the fact that the mother was issued the citation rather than the kids was a no brainer! Like we really thought the 3 year old got the ticket! Jeez

      • Ben Felder, Editor
        November 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

        Aubrey, good points. In response to your last sentence I would only say what I said on another comment, which is if we live in a world where journalists are expected to just get the main issue accurate and not pay much attention to the surrounding facts then we have a problem with not just journalists but reader expectations.

  2. JT
    November 6, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Where is the condemnation of the behavior of this police officer? He was out of line.

    “The officer didn’t actually see the boy pee,” Well then how can he issue a citation for something he didn’t witness?

    Ben sometimes I wonder if you refuse to criticize city government because you fear losing access.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      JT, I’m willing to admit that there was blame on the officer’s side. My criticism in this column was directed at Channel 9, not the city or family. As far as refusing to criticize city government, sometimes it seems that most of the complaints I get are saying the exact opposite, so I kind of appreciate your comment. Maybe I should put together a list of my “greatest hits” of critical city stories – there are plenty :-) As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really do appreciate it.

      • JT
        November 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

        “Oblein returned my phone call Tuesday morning, something Channel 9 said they were unable to do the day before.”

        If the police department wanted Channel 9 to report their side of the story they should have returned Channel 9′s calls When a TV station starts calling about an officer writing a ticket for a 3 year old urinating in public how do you ignore that?. Get your side of the story out. It’s called public relations. Maybe someone at the police department should study up on it.

        Why should Channel 9 be criticized because the police department was to lazy to return phone calls about doing a story on the police department?

      • November 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        The blame is almost ENTIRELY on the officer’s side. Even with your OWN one-sided account, it sounds like the mother did nothing wrong, and that the officer was rude and illogical.

        • Ben Felder, Editor
          November 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

          I agree that the office may have been out of line. Hard to say without all the facts and the police report. My criticism is of the news station, not the family or the officer, which I believe to be a separate issue. Thanks for the comments.

          • Aubrey
            November 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

            I cant believe you are blaming a news station. I am amazed at your accusations. You ran with the story on Tuesday and Channel 9 ran with the story on Monday, so now Channel 9 is to blame because no one called them back. If all news operated that way then the public wouldn’t get any news because no one would ever call them back.

  3. donya
    November 6, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    When you get pulled over for a traffic violation the officer has 3 choices…verbal warning…written warning or issuing a citation. Did this happen in this case? Were any warnings issued? The media is so bad about blowing things oit of porpotion!!

  4. Ken Richter
    November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Channel 9 did some stories in the last year of a well-respected Church of Christ leader at one of our larger congregations in OKC. Accusations of indecent acts was levied against him, and channel 9 cameras showed up at a Wednesday night service. They were very disruptive, demanded interviews with leaders and eventually tried to interview members in the church parking lot. After nearly a year of agony – all charges (which even respected legal experts said all along were very flimsy) were dropped and the man was completely exonerated. While channel 9 did do a follow-up interview with the man and his wife allowing them to tell their side of the story….everyone I know associated with the situation agrees channel 9 was very, very hard to deal with and unprofessional. Along with this most recent Piedmont story – I think we have a substantial problem of low standards and unnecessary sensationalism in the KWTV news gathering and reporting.

  5. Wildcat Fan
    November 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Did anyone reprimand the teenager in this case? It is concerning that the teenager had the boy ‘pull down his pants and urinate’.

    • Concerned in Piedmont
      November 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      YES!!!!! Why are people not seeing the real problem here.

      • Aubrey
        November 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

        I find it amazing the psychic abilities of the officer. So the officer through telepathy knew that the teenager made or “encouraged” the boy to pee outside? So now this is the teenagers fault? Your joking right? Do you not have kids? When a 3 year old has to pee they have to go! i don’t think this was a covert operation resulting in a teenager taking the boy to pee to prove some point? Hilarious!

        • Rose
          November 7, 2012 at 7:57 am #

          They were in their own front yard. What was so hard about taking him INSIDE to do his business properly?

          • John
            November 13, 2012 at 8:53 am #

            You must not have a 3 year old.

    • OSU fan
      November 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      This was a 3 year old!!! NOT A TEENAGER!!! If you’re going to comment, know what the heck you’re talking about!

      • James
        November 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

        I would advise you to take your own advice. Go back and read the article and see that it plainly states a teenager was with the child and allegedly instructed the child to pee in the yard. There were both a teenager AND a 3 year old. Dunce.

    • Nicole
      November 7, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Yes, I agree! Why is this teenager bringing the child to the end of the driveway where people can see? There’s about a million other places in a front yard you could pee and not be so obvious about it!

  6. Abbie
    November 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I don’t care what the case is. One would hope that the police officer would have a little common sense about the situation and realize that this is a baby. It’s maddening.

  7. Yardpilot
    November 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Nice duck and cover, but what is the excuse for not accepting the complaint for investigation?

  8. ertdfg
    November 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Of course it wasn’t an offense of any sort int he first place, if the officer knew the law he was attempting to uphold.

    10-106 in Piedmont county states:

    SECTION 10-106
    Offenses and Crimes
    All persons are capable of committing an offense as herein provided, except those belonging
    to the classes following:
    1. Children under the age of seven (7) years;

    He’s 3, unless you’re over 7 public urination is NOT an offense under this law.


    But go ahead and justify the policeman;’s action; hassling a 3 year old and his mother over a legal action is probably reasonable because… something.

    Why is it the police should hassle small children who are too young for the law in question to apply to them?

    Or does the Piedmont website listing the Piedmont law that he was supposed cited for; which can’t apply to the child in question not matter?

    Why are the police still stating their action was justified when the law itself states there cannot have been a violation?

    Oh, and if you’re going to mock someone else’s reporting and research… why didn’t you already know this?

    • Ringo
      November 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Good & very correct answer!!! People need to know the law!!!

    • PiedmontMom
      November 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      I’m all about facts, love this! Thanks for sharing this critical piece of info.

      People can try to shift blame all they want, but it’s pretty simple… the citation never should have occurred. The police officer was in the wrong and i just hope that the PD can use this as a learning experience and start making some changes that are obviously needed… maybe some training on the laws and their expected code of conduct would be a good place to begin.

      • Ben Felder, Editor
        November 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

        PiedmontMom, I think you hit the nail on the head.

        • John
          November 13, 2012 at 8:56 am #

          I think she hit the nail on your head. (or at least your article here)

          • Ben Felder, Editor
            November 13, 2012 at 8:57 am #

            Just a 14-month old.

  9. One who knows
    November 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Unfortunately, Ben, your facts are not all correct either. The family member joked that for $2500 they should be able to pee all over their yard. If the police were there because they were listening to the citizens, then why not give that answer when asked why he was there…instead of “because I want to and it’s a public street.”?

  10. metaljedi
    November 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    yeah anyway, channel 9 attempted to contact the cop shop for information on this but their calls were not returned. all the info they needed was written on the ticket. conveniently now the police want to publicly defend themselves since they probably acted scummy and definitely look it. without the channel 9 story the police would have likely strong armed this family. good job channel 9.

    • Brent Warden
      November 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      As a close family member (Ashley’s Father), I do agree that without the media bringing the facts to light and the response of the public, the ticket and fine would stand until a judge could review the facts. His actions caused intense stress because we are law abiding citizens. We do not teach our children to urinate outside. But with authority comes responsibility and public trust. The officer is rude and disrespectful. He was intent to do whatever he could to intimidate and punish our family. Common sense dictates that the ticket and fine are unjustified. And with the push-back from readers of the media, the Chief of Police came to dismiss the ticket and apologize. That action is evidence that there was wrong-doing – and NOT on our part.

  11. Jeff
    November 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    The bottom line is the kid was 3! He had to urinate and did it in the yard instead of in his pants!!!! He should be rewarded. BTW, if anyone deserves the credit, it’s the Inzinga & Spinozi morning show on BOB FM, not News 9. They had both the Grandma of the boy and the Mayor on to give BOTH sides of the story.

  12. Dylan
    November 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    YOU HAVE TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT… what cop in his right mind would ticket a potty training 3 year old…. why would you even try to hold a child of that age responsible?

  13. 17YrResident
    November 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    All this could have been avoided if the officer simply walked up to the mom/grandmother/whoever was watching the kid, and nicely asked them to make sure that if he has to do it outside, he does it in the back yard, not in the front yard in public view. It would have been no big deal and probably an amusing moment. Whatever happened to simple common sense?

  14. tiredofthebs
    November 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Curious as to why you took down my comment??????? God forbid someone criticizes the Piedmont PD

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      If it was taken down I’m not sure why. Can you repost? As you can see, criticizing the department is not against the rules of this message board.

  15. Ben Felder, Editor
    November 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    This is an opinion piece, so there is always a distinct possibility that I am wrong and I love that people are taking the time share their perspectives, which are just as valuable as mine. However, my column is about the coverage of the incident, not the incident itself. What I find troubling about some comments is that people are basically saying, “yes, Channel 9 may not have been completely accurate, but at the end of the day it was wrong to issue the ticket and that’s the main issue at hand.” If we live in a world where journalists are expected to just get the main issue accurate and not pay much attention to the surrounding facts then we have a problem with not just journalists but reader expectations.

  16. Ben Felder, Editor
    November 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    As far as the incident at hand, the charges have been dropped, so if you think the police were in the wrong then you have to credit them for making the right call. However, the deeper issue surrounding this story is the conduct of the officer, something neither Channel 9 or the Piedmont Citizen is able to get to the bottom of just hours after the incident.

    Chief Alex Oblein has said he wants a department that is customer service oriented and always respectful and professional towards citizens, even those they are issuing tickets to. It appears that philosophy may not have been followed and that will be a story that the Piedmont Citizen will follow up on in the coming days/weeks.

  17. Concerned in Piedmont
    November 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    I think DHS should be called on the family. A little boy peeing in the yard is not at all shocking or even offensive to me. A teenager taking a child out in public and telling them to pull their pants down is the offense. The mom needs to deal with this problem and accept some responsibility. Under no circumstances should that little boy be left alone with that teenager ever again!

    • Brent Warden
      November 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      I’m the father of Ashley. The child was not brought outside to urinate. The teenager had momentary lack of judgement. There were 2 adults supervising this child which is more than many children who reside in neglect. DHS – Really? Have the child removed from the home? Your logic is flawed and your sense is equal to the officer who wrote the ticket. Like DHS can fix a teenager’s brain – do you have children? Did you ever make a mistake when you were a teen? Oh dear – I hope you are not in a public position. I’m concerned for your ignorance. You need empathy not judgement. And oh yeah – go ahead and call DHS – stupid is as stupid does….

      • Ben Felder, Editor
        November 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

        I would add that I have not heard anything that would lead me to believe the children were in danger. I’m not sure this is an issue of a lack of parental control.

    • Steven M
      November 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      oh yeah because we all now what a bang up job Oklahoma DHS does.

  18. tiredofthebs
    November 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Here is the comment I posted that was removed…..

    According to the officer there was a teenage sibling that led the 3 year old down to the end of the driveway. How could there of been a teenage sibling that supposedly led the 3 year old to the end of the driveway to urinate, when the toddler’s mother is only about 21 or 22 years old???? Looks like the Piedmont PD need to get their story straight. I suspect the real reason the officer and I use that term loosely here, is another perv that was creeping on the mother.

  19. Resident Evil
    November 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    I agree with the critics. The officer seemed to have acted irrationally in serving a citation, instead of a warning. Small communities will always frown on “Wyatt Earp” types, but be appalled when their administration backs the poor, aggressive judgements. You never want your city to be looked at, as if they approve of hiring officers, who act as if they are making up for being bullied as children. The officer should be warned, and the city should take accountability for a bad decision, and apologize. When you don’t give a statement, it is you who is to blame when a story is told, with only one side of the facts. That’s just the most basic rule of public relations.

  20. Susan
    November 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Ben, don’t you feel as though you’re doing a little of the “pot calling the kettle black?” Your headline is sensationalist, for starters. To criticize News 9′s “laziness” because no one in the police department returned a phone call is misplaced. Had News 9 never placed a phone call in the first place, that would be lazy perhaps. However, to hold a news station responsible for a police department’s lack of response, is hardly fair.

    As a former journalist, I agree that “you heard it here first” has always taken the place of “you heard it here correct”, but your facts do not shed any better light on this subject. You have no put in any new information that makes this story any less pathetic. The officer wrote the maximum bond amount? That’s if the mother didn’t pay the ticket, correct? He’s telling her what it would take to bond her out of jail if she didn’t pay the fine or failed to appear in court, correct? Did you bother to ask how a police officer can arrest a mother for a child’s actions? Or ticket her? Can you recall ever seeing a bond amount written on a ticket you may have obtained? Or seen a copy of?

    While I take the comment forums with a grain of salt, there is always truth in them. If this family was “on the radar” for the department and the complaining citizens, an officer writing this ticket becomes even more suspect. It’s not “to be forgotten” simply because the DA decided not to file the charges. This is still an issue that should be investigated.

    So instead of throwing stones at another news agency for “laziness,” I would recommend you pull the pathos out of your headlines and do the deep investigation you have accused News9 of failing to do. Otherwise, you are no better than they are.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, I think you make some good points. I’m not sure my biggest issue was the station not receiving a call back from the PD but Channel 9 met that challenge by just filling in the blanks. My column started with actual quotes from the reporters that were wrong and if you, like others, want to simply say they were not accurate but that doesn’t change the larger story, then I think that points to a problem of not just the reporter but the reader.

      • JT
        November 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

        I don’t see how “Channel 9 just filled in the blanks”. They reported what they were told. The police department declined to give their side of the story and now they are paying the price. What part did Channel 9 make up or cover up?

        If they don’t do a follow up story then I would agree that they didn’t follow through on this.

        • John
          November 13, 2012 at 9:22 am #

          How many stories do you sit at your computer to work on per day? Now think about how many stories they have to work on per day. Calling them lazy? That is just immature.

          “My column started with actual quotes” Come on, those quotes are ridiculous. You said, “The problem is the ticket wasn’t issued to the boy, but instead his mother.” HE IS 3, do you really think your readers are that stupid? Who really needed that part clarified?

          The next actual quote was that the mother will have to pay thousands. Then you say, that’s not true, “it would most likely be significantly cheaper.” Since when does, “most likely” mean you can call someone wrong?

          This sounds more like a “he said, she said” middle school conversation than a news article.

          • Ben Felder, Editor
            November 13, 2012 at 9:29 am #

            John, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I will repeat something I have said all along, and that is the story went viral because readers thought the boy was issued a ticket and that it was $2,500. If the original story reported that the mother was issued a ticket when a relative led the child to the road to pee in front of the officer, and that the ticket would have been less than $100, I can guarantee you it would not have received the attention that it did. You may view those as secondary facts, but I would ask you to hold media outlets to higher standards. Thanks, Ben

  21. Dessie
    November 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I’m surprised no one has commented on the excessive price put on this ‘crime’. For the sake of argument let’s say the boy deserved a ticket. $2500 is outrageous. Did someone misplace the decimal? Did I read it wrong? That seems like nothing more than a revenue generator.

  22. Cheryl
    November 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm #


    To quote Ben:

    Ben Felder, Editor
    November 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    I agree that the office may have been out of line. Hard to say without all the facts and the police report.

    MAY have been out of line??!?!?!?!?! Who tickets a parent for the actions of a 3 year old unless they are just wanting to be a bully and flash their badge. Some officer wanted to flex his muscle and once he was called on it, its News9 fault. Don’t think News9 wrote $2,500 in large print and circled it on the ticket either. Yet another act of bullying by Piedmont’s finest.

    • John
      November 13, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      I don’t get why Ben can say that News 9 WAS lazy, but the officer only “MAY” have been out of line. Where are your facts and reports about News 9′s laziness?

      • Ben Felder, Editor
        November 13, 2012 at 9:34 am #

        John, I think you are referring to older articles. Check out our more relevant stuff. The take that the officer “may” have been out of line was before more details emerged. After more details emerged, I would say he was definitely out of line, which out followup story shows. I’m not sure any other media outlet – including News 9 – has provided a followup. Here is the link to the story: http://goo.gl/EQHh3

  23. Piedmont citizen
    November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Ben I appreciate your responses to the criticism you get from people. Most people respond in more criticism. You are so right about media not getting the story accurate. Its hard for me to believe anything I hear on the news. As far as the mother getting ticketed for her son using the bathroom I think it was stupid! But now that the PD dropped the charges I think that shows some maturity.

    • Tiredpd thugs
      November 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Letting the power hungry officer go is majority! Not the first time this officer has NOT done this

  24. soWrong
    November 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Agreed! Piedmont police are biggest bullies ever!!! What happened to the day you looked up and respected police officers?

  25. David
    November 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Ok first off its not like it was an adult male. If my 3 year old has to use the restroom that bad and can’t make it in the house i’m not going to stop him from peeing in the yard. I use to be a cop and I know better that if i didn’t see something happened I would not write a ticket. Now if a citizen would have seen it and wanted to sign the ticket then I would have write out the ticket and had the citizen sign the ticket. Now 9 time out of 10 when you tell them they will have to go to court they drop the issue.

  26. Piedmont Citizen 2
    November 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Question for you Ben –

    How many people employed by the local Piedmont government consider you a close friend?

    From browsing your past stories it appears the mayor and police chief are very close friends of yours… Be careful, *you* just might become the news soon, never know who just might be filming!

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      I just got an email last week asking why I hate the mayor, which makes me kind of laugh at your comment. Seriously though, I have good relationships and bad relationships with the people I cover, but I don’t live in Piedmont nor do I socialize with anyone from town, so film away :-)

  27. Stan Miller
    November 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    In defense of Kelly Ogle and Amanda Taylor, we DON’T always get our phone calls returned by Police or other agencies unless of course they want something from us, like help in solving a crime, or putting a missing person’s picture up. Most of the time it’s like pulling teeth to get the WHOLE story. If you’re not in the business you wouldn’t understand. Police and other agencies that want the facts reported in balance need to give up all those facts instead of making us jump through hoops, and then telling writers like you that we got it wrong. Most PD’s and Fire Depts go out of their way to help get it right and work with us. This time they should have stepped up a little quicker and this could have ended in a better way. Armchair quarterbacking is easy. Doing what we do on a daily basis, not so much.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      I will admit that his job is hard and that few people understand all that goes into it. The reality is Kelly and Amanda’s statements to begin the newscast were inaccurate and, once again, just ignoring little inaccuracies is a problem in TV news. Your job is hard, very hard, and I wouldn’t want to do it. One of the reasons its so hard is because when the news starts you have to run with something, and I always tell people that if a news station sends a truck its going to get a story, even if there isn’t one. I’m not just armchair quarterbacking a simple mistake, I’m critiquing a culture that exists in TV news. I also am a little taken back that you complain getting the “WHOLE story” is to hard. It may be like pulling teeth, but its your job to pull them.

  28. Anita
    November 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Well then I guess the police should have talked to channel 9 and then it would have been reported correctly. Instead the police and city are trying to down play this anyway they can. Would can blame them. Maybe this will make the Police Dept. act like one and try to do some real good rather than waste time on the small things.

  29. Charles Coffman
    November 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I just wanted everyone to know that no one in the city supported this action and heaven and earth was moved to find a way to undo this. We can’t tear up tickets but the district attorney tossed it. I got emails from across the country on this. I, like the others was very upset by this and how it makes the town look. The dropping of the ticket will not be the end of this and the police chief went to visit the family. As for the $2,500, it is the max for public exposure and that was written on the ticket. That is another thing I have questions about. As for the news coverage I say anytime something like this gets this type of attention you can’t win. I have had calls from reporters and when I call back the number is out of service (field phone). All you can do is be as open as you can be as quick as you can. Some times you have to call the editor to get the info to them. It takes a while to get a sense for when you better get ahead of the issue. We did not react well. Sad stuff, one person’s action impacts an entire town.

  30. kaylene
    November 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    So because the mother got the ticket not the child makes
    it bettet

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Better? No. Factual? Yes.

      • James
        November 7, 2012 at 12:57 am #

        Factual? Yes. Irrelevant? Yes.

        Unless you’re intentionally writing pieces to sound condescending to the general public, no one in their right mind would believe the police pulled aside a three year old (who can hardly talk) and handed him a ticket.

        • Ben Felder, Editor
          November 7, 2012 at 7:22 am #

          But James, that’s exactly what people did. The reason this story went viral in the first place is because people thought a ticket was issued to a 3 year old boy and that the fine was $2,500. I really believe that if both those facts were correctly reported then this doesn’t become what it became. And maybe its a good thing it did because that might be the only way real change can happen, but I still disagree that its ok to justify a few inaccuracies for the sake of a larger point. I’m not trying to be condescending, but if the majority of the public thinks those facts don’t matter then this industry is already dead.

          • JT
            November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

            Ben, do you really believe that? If the headline had been “Mom ticketed for 3 year old’s public urination” do you think that would have changed anything? The amount of the fine was irrelevant. It could have been $5 and people still would have been outraged over the actions of the police officer.

          • Ben Felder, Editor
            November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

            I can see your point, but I do believe that. I don’t think it changes the fact that the officer was in the wrong, but I do think it led to the viral nature of the story. For example, a man from New York called me this morning to complain that when he called the police to complain they hung up on him. He called us to vent, but when I told him the mom had been ticketed, not the child, he thought the incident was not nearly as big of a deal. For those of us in Piedmont I don’t think it matters much because we look at it differently. We see a member of OUR police department acting in a way we disagree with. The rest of the nation doesn’t necessarily care about police in Piedmont, they just jump on the absurdness of it. the situation was absurd and absurd things happen all the time, but the idea that the child was ticketed made this a national story. Once again, I may be too picky on this, but its what I believe.

  31. Ann Beaver
    November 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    No, I wasn’t there, but I believe my daughter when she calls me very upset over actions of a cop. BTW…I live in Pennsylvania. I understand that Dillan was taken to the SIDE of the house by his 15 yo aunt…NOT the end of the driveway by a teenaged boy. Yes, he thought he needed to go, but then didn’t. I don’t even think the officer should have acted at all. The only thing that might have seen the 3 yo was maybe a dog or donkey. If action HAD to be taken, a verbal warning would certainly have sufficed. I do want to compliment Chief Oblein for coming all the way out to Ryan Dr. to speak with the family in person. He acted very professionally.

    • Rose
      November 7, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Um perhaps posting this much personal information could be harmful to your daughter.

  32. Michael
    November 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Why blame the officer? Blame the mother for not raising her teenager well enough to realize that antagonizing a police officer (someone who is there to help the community as a whole) and persuading a child to publicly urinate are not acceptable acts. Shame on bad parenting.

  33. Jeaux Bleaux
    November 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Headline should have read: “FELDER: Piedmont pays the price for Piedmont PD’s laziness”. After all, News9 tried to contact them but received no response. Where do you get off calling News9 lazy? It is their job to keep the public apprised of abuse of power by anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is their job to shout “BULL SQUEEZE” at the top of their lungs when the public safety and well-being is threatened.

    Your own words within the article, quoting Kelly Ogle, “A three year old gets his mother in trouble with the law when he gets a ticket from police,” lead me to believe that you may have a reading comprehension issue, Mr. Felder. Seriously Mr. Felder, what part of “gets his mother in trouble” are you having difficulty with? Did you honestly believe the police officer wrote and handed the child a ticket? Well, no one else did either.

    This isn’t a case of rogue reporting or misleading headlines, but it is a case of sensationalism. The news that a police officer would cite a three year old for public urination then hand the citation to his mother is sensational news. And make no mistake, the three year old was the one cited not the mother.

    News Nine certainly deserves any and all credit for breaking this story and reporting on the heavy-handed action of the police officer involved. It is inconceivable that an officer of the law would have so little common sense and equally inconceivable that any individual that considers himself/herself a journalist would make any attempt to defend such behavior indirectly by attacking the news source that reported it. The fact that you admitted at least three times in the comments preceding this one that the officer was in the wrong, “I agree that the officer may have been out of line”, but at least two other times you infer that preceding comments agree with your take that News9 was guilty of falsely reporting the news. The only comment I found was from one individual with a very specific axe to grind with News9.

    I found the entire affair laughable but am very concerned that the City of Piedmont will make the egregious error of continuing to allow someone with such poor judgement as this police officer has displayed to carry a weapon. Heaven forbid he should shoot a young couple making out in the backseat of a car.

    Summing it up:

    The cop was wrong.
    Your headline was wrong.
    Your premise was wrong.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

      Jeaux, thanks for the comments. I see some good points in there. I will say that I think you misquoted Kelly. Once again, he is getting a pass for stating a wrong fact and I fear its because readers are holding journalists to lower standards than ever before. Also, read my second column on the issue, I think you will agree with many of the points. Thanks!

  34. Jeaux Bleaux
    November 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    No, Mr. Felder, I simply cut and pasted YOUR quote of Kelly.

    Have a nice day.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Sorry, I thought you misquoted it because you seemed to say what Kelly said was right. It was wrong, the kid didn’t get the ticket, the mother did. You may see that as a minor detail that doesn’t matter. Channel 9 surely did and that’s a problem. This story gained traction at first because people thought a 3-year-old kid received a ticket. It was an important fact to mess up.

  35. pam airey
    November 6, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    It sounds like the cop was having a bad day and decided on his own cuff to be the law! Its frustrating because all us mothers know how hard it is for little boys to keep their wee peepee in their pants and their hands off of it! I wonder if this police officer has any common sense, guess not! I hope when this goes to court that the judge sees this will hurt the family costing them money they probably cant afford to loose at this time of the year, throw it out of court and give the cop a sever dressing down. He needs to be more patient with kids. Ok if the teenager told the 3 yr old to pee, he did what he was told by an older person who he will see as a responsible adult. I think the cop should be made to attend parenting classes so he can begin to understand that kids are strange animal, at times they will do weird things!! Come on this guy needs a life! Ground the teenager, get him to pick up trash but to fine the mother is just plain silly!! Shame on the police dept!

  36. November 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    From the safety of Australia I find your article quite interesting because it is a classic example of what is wrong with much of our society today. We have the same problems here.Our police concentrate on unimportant issues and serious crime continues to grow. In so doing they antagonise the public they are supposed to serve.
    Criticise the reporting, I have no problem with that but to try and change the emphasis is unfotgiveable. The moment that officer took the action he did he had already made your town the butt of world wide jokes. And there are more serious questions than journalistic bias at play here. What was his motivation and how did he consider that acceptable? Does the Piedmont PD have the right leadership and priorities? Is that the accepted culture in Piedmont PD? Did he have personal issues with the the family? Does he have bigger issues relating to small children? Why does he hang out on that street? I would not want him parked in my street all day. I would see that as threatening given the action he took. Preying on his own community whom he is sworn to protect and swerve?
    Thankfully you seem to have a fine Mayor who acted quickly and sensibly. Wish we had her here.

  37. Al Ridgely
    November 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Larry Olivier,Please take her,we here would love to see what you’d do with her and her lack of leadership,which in the past has told volumes,so again PLEASE TAKE HER.

  38. bruce
    November 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    The officer’s action was indefensible and you know it, Mr. Editor, so why are you carrying water for this fool? This story is all over the internet now, and there are yak herders in Tibet laughing at Oklahoma as the home of rubes, hayseeds and yokels.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 7, 2012 at 7:23 am #

      Bruce, can’t disagree that the incident was wrong, which is why I wrote another column about the incident. This is my take on the coverage of the incident.

  39. Resident Evil
    November 7, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    Charles Coffman, you just made your town much more credible, well done. Just receiving my degree in public relations, your response answers many questions, takes responsibility and promises to work towards finding solutions to this and other issues. If the city would have given a statement earlier, like you just did, all of this negative publicity could have been avoided. I consult for different entities, and your town is in need of a plan to prevent issues from becoming crisis. I believe you are the man for the job, good luck.

  40. Chris
    November 7, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Media frenzy or not that is not the point, nor is it that the citation was dropped, it is that a citation was ISSUED because a 3yo BABY urinated in his own families front yard.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 7, 2012 at 7:19 am #

      Media frenzy was the point of this column. See my other one for a thought on the incident itself.

  41. Seriously
    November 7, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    This article baffles my common sense. Ben, your desire (and commitment) to report the precise facts are admirable and uncommon in the media these days. However, the nit picking of miniscule facts is something that is done in a court of law. While I would prefer that all media would strive to be as acurate as you have been, the criticism of News 9 is misplaced at the very best!
    At least one other reply to this topic referred to the irrelavence of the 3 year old receiveing the citation versus the mother receiveing the citation. While this distinction is important in a court of law, the story is about the rediculous charge levied upon this family by an over zealous police officer. Now to be as sarcastic as I can possible be, it is a good thing the 3 year old did not have his Open Carry water pistol on him or this could have turned into a armed gunman Stand Off situation.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 7, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      I still think these “minuscule facts” are important and that if they were reported accurately the story would not have caught fire like it did. I criticize Channel 9 for going with what would get the biggest response, not present the most accurate story. However, maybe I’m wrong about that. I did find your last sentence to be funny. Well done.

  42. Ben Felder, Editor
    November 7, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Obviously yesterday’s column invoked a lot of feedback from readers literally around the world. I will say, while most of the people who shared comments were expressing disagreement with me, I very much appreciate that there were a lot of logical and civil points made, especially by those who took a different view from me. It’s an opinion piece, simply meant to share my perspective and I would never devalue a reader doing the same, especially those who do so respectfully, which I think most did.

  43. Ben Felder, Editor
    November 7, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    I also realize it is not typical for a journalist to respond to comments left on a story, but I think its important to respond to readers. It is unfair for writers to think their opinion should be read by others but not give attention to readers who take the time to respectfully comment. Journalism needs to do a better job of connecting with readers and take down the wall that has long existed between newsroom and reader.

  44. jack
    November 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    I think the mayor’s interview was over the top with her comments about Peeedmont, quite embarrassing now since this story has gone national, the cop is not off the hook either!!

  45. November 8, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    OK, this is really a wow from someone who lives on the other side of the world. I’ll bet there is more to the story than anyone has presented thus far; either that or the officer has to rate up there with Inspector Clouseau, “Little Boy, dew yew haf a leesense for dat weenie?”

    No, but seriously folks, is this an action of a frustrated officer who can’t stick the family with the crimes he THINKS they are committing? Vandalism? Peeing on Cars? Or was he just bored. Let me see. Could there be something PERSONAL between the officer and this family?

    • Tiredpd thugs
      November 9, 2012 at 12:11 am #

      Amen blue you know get the piedmont pd

  46. SC Boy in Blue
    November 9, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Felder, I just want to compliment you on your coverage of this foolish incident.

    I am a police supervisor in South Carolina and believe me, this crap would not fly under my command. This rookie would be reassigned to walking a beat monitoring parking meters in the middle of the ghetto if this crap came across my desk. Obviously he doesn’t have what it takes to judiciously apply the law, and as a result is a walking liability for his department. I hope that Chiel Oblein cuts his losses at the first opportunity by firing his posterior. He should also further initiate proceedings at the police academy to decertify this idiot and take away his badge and gun forever… before he hurts another innocent member of the community in a more grievous manner.

    To the rest of the Piedmont PD, keep your heads up, watch your six, and make sure Barney Fife is the first one through the door when the going gets tough. Stay safe out there!!!

  47. Jason
    November 9, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Ben, your piece starts out promisingly with, “It’s a story that seems to show what’s wrong with government, but, in reality, it’s an example of what’s wrong with journalism.”

    But your argument, that the TV reported never fully checked the facts, is very weak. True, the TV reporter missed the fact that the $2,500 was a bond and not the actual fine — but that is a secondary fact. It still would have been a story an audience would have wanted to hear of the fine were $25.

    You failed to do the very thing you claim the TV reporter failed to do: get all the facts. Your story is about how the TV reporter erred, yet you didn’t use the subject of your story as a source. You have no primary source to conclude “what’s wrong with journalism.” And that, I would say, is what’s wrong with journalism — you just gave us your opinion without really knowing why the TV reporter covered the story the way they did.

    Of course, you undercut your entire position by admitting what is the spine of the story: “After talking with Oblein, it does sound like the officer could have handled the situation better. He may have been rude and confrontational, a demeanor Oblein has said he wants to change since arriving in Piedmont last summer.”

    WTF? Ben, that’s what the whole issue is about – the over reaction of an officer to a toddler peeing, regardless of the circumstances. Someone needs to grow up and it’s not the toddler or teenagers. The TV reporter may have missed a few elements but you missed the entire point.

    • Ben Felder, Editor
      November 9, 2012 at 9:40 am #

      Jason, I would disagree that the officer’s conduct is the only issue. I have covered that, but for us in Piedmont, the media frenzy is a story in itself. Also, you are right that the amount of the fine is a secondary fact, but if you and other readers are willing to say secondary facts don’t matter, then our industry is in real trouble not just because of journalists, but because of the low standards of readers.

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