July 23, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
76°F

Cop can’t charge pot-smoking teens, tells their parents

MONTVILLE TWP. — Montville Police Sgt. Matthew Neil didn’t have enough evidence to file charges against the four teenagers who had been spotted smoking marijuana earlier in the evening of Sept. 14.

Instead he resorted to an unusual form of street justice: He called their parents to come down to the spot where he had pulled the boys over.

“All the parents were surprised, I could tell,” Neil said. “But if I would have just let them go, the parents never would have known about this.”

Neil explained that a call had come into Medina police about 9:40 p.m. reporting that boys were seen smoking marijuana from a bowl in a pickup at Stop’n Go, 1033 S. Court St.

But the truck was gone by the time police arrived.

Neil, who was on patrol in the township, had overheard the report on the radio and ran the license plate, which returned a Montville Township address.

Neil went to the address and spoke to a father who confirmed his 17-year-old son was driving it that night.
But the father was adamant that his son “does not smoke marijuana.”

“He wasn’t mean or anything, but he was dissatisfied that I was accusing his son of smoking marijuana,” Neil said.
About 20 minutes later, Neil spotted the pickup near H.G. Blake Elementary School and pulled it over.

The four boys at first denied smoking marijuana, but soon came clean: They had thrown away the bowl after the father of the driver had called and said a police officer had been to the house.

Neil said he gave the driver a roadside impairment test and searched the car.

But the driver passed the test and nothing was found.

“Trust me, if they had any paraphernalia or marijuana, we would have charged them,” he said.

Because the initial report was in the city of Medina, Neil decided not the charge the boys “due to lack of physical evidence and the lack of jurisdiction.”

Neil said that alerting the parents was the right thing to do.

“As a father of a teenager, I would want to know if my son was smoking,” he said.

Neil said the parents understood their sons had a close call and made that crystal clear to the boys.

“I would think all of them were even more discouraged by the time they got home,” he said.

Neil said the boys were lucky to be stopped close to home.

“Someplace like Akron, I suppose they’re busy with other stuff,” he said. “They may not have had the time to dedicate an officer to wait for the parents to come down.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.