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Dropping the F-Bomb in Michigan Town Could Cost You $200

A man upset after being asked to leave a playground swears he mumbled an obscene epithet under his breath, but “that would require an officer with some incredible hearing,” the police chief said.

Authorities in Brighton, MI, warn that cursing and swearing in a popular children's park could earn teenagers and young adults tickets for disorderly conduct. (Patch file photo)
Authorities in Brighton, MI, warn that cursing and swearing in a popular children's park could earn teenagers and young adults tickets for disorderly conduct. (Patch file photo)

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.”
Chuck Fellows May 20, 2014 at 07:27 AM
Dear Patch: Law enforcement is required to enforce the laws on the books and in the instant case there are legal ordinances prohibiting the activities that summonses were issued for. Failure to address a violation in a context that presents a violation to an officer while on duty is a failure of a sworn law officer to do his job. Certainly there might be more serious issues to be addressed (i.e. when Brighton and Green Oak Police Officers were shot when responding to vandalism). The context of these violations is a public area where families are present at a public facility, customers of two businesses that cater specifically to children (really good stuff too) use the parking lot, vandalism has unfortunately been an ongoing problem, especially to the public pavilion and the public art works scattered throughout the area. It does require public funds to repair the damages caused by less than desirable behaviors. The concern many have expressed regarding this incident has to do with the lawfulness of a legally drafted, published and posted City ordinance and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Those who object to these legal provisions should first express their concern to the governing body that created them, in this case a City Council. Consider the consequences of allowing without prohibitions the assembly of groups focused upon their perceived need to express themselves physically and orally in a manner they see fit. Younger individuals are enthusiastic in their pursuits, they are still growing up, and that enthusiasm can overflow causing a disturbance to those that are present to enjoy the intended use of a family public area and children's oriented private businesses. Given the history, context and the available facts what is your call? How should this be handled? Craft a legal ordinance to secure the use of these facilities for all. Criticizing a community for its sincere efforts to provide a family friendly activity area in the heart of a downtown is not an appropriate response. Of course, since we collect these teens in one place called a school five days a week maybe we should let all of them weigh in on these behaviors and present us with their solutions. I think they would come up with far better ideas than the adults in charge, given a chance. That is a teachable moment - for our children to teach us!
Sue Czarnecki May 20, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Why this doesn't surprise me ? Because it's Brighton !!!
Bob May 20, 2014 at 12:19 PM
Kid deserved the ticket....good lesson learned on life...
Racer Boy May 20, 2014 at 03:30 PM
Allie- Contrary to your statement, ultra-liberal educational systems ARE responsible for these ridiculous "zero tolerance" polices...all in the name of political correctness. "It's not fair" being the premise for our entire society today. Over time, respect for authority along with personal responsibility and public decency have completely eroded. Welcome to 2014.
Joseph Borrajo May 20, 2014 at 05:38 PM
They ought to make a law of all the foul legislative actions out of Congress. Oooops, won't happen Congress is the care taker of obscene government. P3

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