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Uploaded on Feb 25, 2012
A Kitchener father is angry at police after he was arrested at his child's school and later strip-searched at the police station, all because his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in class.
"I'm picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I'm locked up," Jessie Sansone, 26, said of his ordeal on Wednesday. "I was in shock. This is completely insane."
The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They say they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone's house that children had access to.
"From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there's guns in a home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child," said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children's Services.
Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Kevin Thaler said there was a complaint from Forest Hills Public School that "a firearm was in a residence and children had access to it. We had every concern, based on this information, that children were in danger."
Sansone said he went to pick up his three children on Wednesday and was summoned to the principal's office, where three police officers were waiting. They said he was being charged with possession of a firearm.
He was escorted from the school, handcuffed and put in a cruiser. At the same time, other officers went to his home, where his wife and 15-month-old child were waiting for him.
They made his wife come to the police station while the other three children were taken to Family and Children's Services to be interviewed.
At the police station, Sansone was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search.
Several hours later, a detective apologized and said he was being released with no charges, Sansone said.
The detective told him his daughter Neaveh had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun. When a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, "That's my daddy's. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters."
After he was released, Sansone was asked to sign a paper authorizing a search of his home. He signed, even though he didn't have to, he said.
The school principal, Steve Zack, said a staff member called child welfare officials because the law requires them to report anything involving the safety or neglect of a child.