are defending their decision to charge the father who left his two young children at Scott Park without supervision for nearly two hours while shopping and showering.
Govindaraj Narayanasamy, 38, of Scott, was charged with two counts of child endangerment after township police said he left the 6-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy alone in the park for nearly two hours Saturday. Police say he went to to buy snacks and later drove to to shower.
The child endangerment charges after a group called Free Range Kids linked to the story and several members criticized the woman’s call to police and the officer’s decision to file charges.
Scott Township police Chief Jim Secreet said the woman, whom he would not identify, went over to the kids after noticing they were alone. She spoke to the boy, who told her their father went to park the car at LA Fitness, which is about three miles away. When the father still hadn’t returned after an hour, she thought something might be wrong and called police.
“She felt uncomfortable leaving them there because that (explanation) didn’t make sense to her,” Secreet said. “To say the father went to park the car at LA Fitness, that tells me that the child isn’t mature enough to understand what is going on. That makes me think the boy thought he was coming right back.”
Secreet said an aggravating circumstance is that the father lied to officers about how long he was gone and that the children did not have an ability to contact anyone in the event of an emergency.
“He tried to shorten the time, so that tells me he must’ve been uncomfortable with what he did,” Secreet said. “There was no contingency. They had no recourse if something happened.”
Secreet said the police officer consulted with the Allegheny County district attorney’s office before filing charges Wednesday. He said the law is ambiguous on when a child can be left alone, but said the circumstances warranted charges.
“There really is no set age as far as when a child can watch another child or babysit,” Secreet said. “You have to look at each individual’s maturity. It’s a judgment call on law enforcement and you have to look at the totality of the situation.”
This story originally appeared on Chartiers Valley Patch.