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Free Treffly Coyne! Free Treffly Coyne!

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published March 12, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

Notice to the police: I’m running low on gas and will have to refill in the morning. Depending on the pump-ATM-astronomical alignment, I might be a yard or so away from the guys for a split second. But I promise I won’t take my eyes off them, so please don’t cuff me.

Sound preposterous? Something very similar to that scenario happened to an Illinois mother around Christmas, after she left her 2-year-old sleeping in the car for mere moments on a cold, sleety day while her two older daughters dropped $8.29 in coins in a Salvation Army kettle at Wal-Mart.

A Crestwood police community service officer then proceeded to arrest Treffly Coyne. The suburban Chicago mother is scheduled to go to trial tomorrow on misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and obstructing an officer.

The latter charged came as Coyne struggled to get back to her older children, whom <EM>the police left unattended as Mommy sat cuffed in the back of the cruiser, a Chicago CBS affiliate reported.

Has this world gone completely nutso mad?

I get that you don’t leave children unattended in cars, particularly in the summer. A spate of such incidents, some with fatal consequences, is what led Illinois legislators to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to leave children in a car unsupervised for longer than 10 minutes.

And I’d be ready to round up a hanging party myself for any parent who leaves a child in a car to go shopping. It happens — you know it does, because chances are, you’ve seen it.

But that’s not what Coyne did. She stood outside the car as she watched her older children donate money they’d saved to help the poor at Christmas. And for this Mommy got arrested.

Coyne told The Associated Press that she could see her 2-year-old the entire time she was away from the car, which was far less than 10 minutes. The local police don’t dispute that claim.

Crestwood Police Chief Timothy Sulikowski still insists, though, that Coyne put her daughter in danger. A minute or two, that’s when things can happen, he told AP.

Basic civics lesson to Chief Sulikowski: Legislators make laws. Courts interpret laws. Police enforce them. They don’t get to make up new laws on the fly. Which is exactly what the Crestwood department did.

And Coyne is a pretty good civics lesson herself. Assuming her older daughters — ages 8 and 9 — aren’t too traumatized to ever want to talk about the incident again, Coyne can tell them that, yes, sometimes even authorities goof up, but you don’t have to sit there and take it.

She could have pleaded out and gotten away with a $50 fine or so. But she didn’t — she fought back.
And today, it appears she’s going to win her fight: The Chicago Tribune reported that prosecutors are prepared to drop the charges as the trial starts Thursday.

Thank heaven. Because I already was checking Expedia to see if I could get to Chicago in time for the “Free Treffly Coyne” march.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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