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Deputies stage child safety seat sting

February 12, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photoshop

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Deputies stage child safety seat sting

BOONSBORO - Parents dropping off their children at the Teddy Bear Daycare Center in Boonsboro on Wednesday morning were greeted by police.

Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies Jim Holsinger and Mark Hansberger were at the center from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., checking on whether children arriving at the center were safely seated, and whether child safety seats were properly installed and secured.

Teddy Bear owner Teresa Schifler said her staff emphasizes safety, and that she invited the deputies to the center.

The police effort was part of National Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week.

Deputies were at the day care center on Monday, passing out educational information to parents. On Wednesday they returned prepared to issue citations.

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"This is the enforcement part of the effort," Hansberger said.

As it turned out, no one was ticketed. "There were no flagrant violations," Holsinger said. "If there had been we wouldn't have hesitated to write a citation. Basically, all were in compliance ... What we were seeing was some people being misinformed about how to use the equipment."

For example, one dad in a pickup truck had his child in a safety seat, but it was facing the wrong direction, Holsinger said.

Diane Shroyer of Keedysville found out the child seat holding her 3-year-old son Shawn was a little loose. She was using the wrong seatbelt to hold it in place, officers said.

Shroyer thanked the deputies. "I didn't know that," she said. "I thought he was safe."

Another parent came with an older child in the front passenger seat. The officers told him children should always ride in the back seat if possible - especially if the vehicle has a passenger-side airbag.

"It's not illegal to have them in the front seat, but we don't recommend it," Holsinger said. "Airbags are not made to protect people under 5 feet tall." He said children have been decapitated and suffocated by airbags.

Diane Carr, of Sharpsburg, who was with daughter Melissa, 5, thought having the deputies at the center was important.

"It lets you know whether your child is really safe or not," she said.

Karen Sweeney, of Boonsboro, a nurse, is an advocate for child car safety. She was dropping off daughter Shannon, 5, and son Sean, 2.

Sweeney applauded the deputies' efforts to inform. "They should do this in multiple places," she said.

Sweeney says parents' indifference angers her.

Hansberger stressed parental responsibility in keeping their children safe.

"Kids are innocent. They don't know what it's like to be propelled out of the windshield of a vehicle," he said.

Holsinger called this week's effort a success. "I think we showed them we aren't out there just to hammer 'em and hammer 'em with tickets. We do care about them and their safety."

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