1. 4 year old girl draws picture of "Daddy shooting burglars and monsters."
2. Teacher takes picture to the Principal.
3. Principal contacts Child Protective Services.
4. Child Protective Services calls police.
5. Father comes to school to pick up child.
6. Father taken to the Principal's office where he is arrested by 3 police officers.
7. Arrested, charged with possession of a firearm.
8. Handcuffed, taken to police station.
10. No weapon found.
Even in a country with gun laws as warped as Canada’s, the story of Jessie Sansone is still mindboggling.
Sansone, 26, is a father of three and Kitchener, Ont., resident. As a younger man, he admits getting into trouble with the law, but claims to have lived clean for years. He’s now a certified personal support worker, husband and father of three. He was even reportedly offered a job at the very same school where this bizarre story begins. On Wednesday, Sansone arrived at his children’s’ school to pick them up. He was asked to step inside and meet with the principal. In the principal’s office, Sansone was met by three Waterloo Regional Police officers and immediately arrested. He was taken to a nearby station, strip searched and locked in a cell. His wife was also summoned to the station, and their children taken by Family and Children’s Services. At no point were they told why this was happening. It was not until officers had told Sansone that he’d be held in custody overnight before a bail hearing in the morning that his lawyer was finally able to tell Sansone that he had been arrested for possession of a firearm.
After hours in custody, during which time Sansone understandably became alarmed, he was suddenly released, without charges or conditions. A detectective with the Waterloo Regional Police service apologized to Sansone, and explained that the entire sequence of events had been set in motion because a teacher at the school became alarmed when his four-year-old daughter drew a gun and said the picture was of her father. The teacher then noticed Family Services, who decided that the police needed to be involved, telling the police that they had reason to believe that there was a gun in Sansone’s home that his children had access to. That is what led Waterloo’s finest to bust Sansone in front of the entire school, strip him naked, confine him in a cell, bring his wife to a police station and take away their children.
That sounds bad, but it’s actually worse even than that. The drawing that set all this off was a drawing of Sansone being a good guy — according to what his daughter told her kindergarten teacher, the picture was off her daddy using a gun against “bad guys and monsters.” Protecting her, in other words. It was essentially a comic strip with her father in the role of the hero. Good Lord! We’d better call in the SWAT team, quick!
The good news, if we can call it that, is that Sansone was released relatively quickly, and the police at least had the good grace to apologize for this unmitigated fiasco. But what is bad news, and entirely predictable, is how quickly all three groups involved in committing this injustice upon Sansone and his family are trying to insist that they did everything exactly right. The school is insisting that its teachers are obligated to report potential signs that their students might be in danger to Family and Children’s Services, which in turn insist that when they receive such notifications, they are obligated to investigate. And given the nature of the accusation, Family Services was compelled to notify the police, who have procedures for dealing with allegations of an unauthorized weapon in a home, especially one with children.
OK. So that’s how the bureaucracy works. So where does the common sense or discretion come in? Surely there are other ways to investigate an incident such as this that don’t involve instantly arresting and stripping an innocent man while seizing his children. Is that now going to be the default investigative response to every rumour, hint or intimation made in a classroom or schoolyard? Whatever happened to conducting an investigation, gathering evidence and building a case before swooping in with two units of armed officers?
- National Post