Concerns raised over lack of immediacy in Ridgetown incident involving a minor

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / VaLiza)

UPDATE: “Suspicious vehicle” investigation cleared in Ridgetown

A parent from the Ridgetown area is expressing some concerns with police and the school board after her child came home with a letter from the school, stating that a student was approached by a suspicious vehicle approximately seven hours earlier in the day.

Copies of letters from two different schools in Ridgetown were sent to Tuesday evening. The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said the letters were from Nahii Ridge Public School and St. Michael Catholic School. Both letters referenced an incident that happened in the area Tuesday morning.

“A suspicious vehicle approached a student outside of the student’s home. A male and female inside the vehicle attempted to engage the student in conversation,” read the letter from Nahii Ridge Public School. “The student was able to leave the area safely and the incident was reported to the school.”

The letter from St. Michael Catholic School had less information, but the same message. However, the letter from St. Michael said there were “two males inside the vehicle”. Both letters do state that the Chatham-Kent Police Service was contacted about the incident and “is investigating”.

The parent who contacted Blackburn News said she is questioning why she had to wait until the end of the day to receive the information, adding that an email should have been sent to parents earlier in the day. While she has some concerns with how the school board handled the incident, the parent also said her main concern is why she was not able to get information from the police afterwards. She said she spoke with a front desk officer after receiving the letter and was told there was no incident report.

“I just find that the police kind of just… brushed it off,” she said. did reach out to the media relations officer for the Chatham-Kent Police Service and was told the matter would be reviewed Wednesday morning.

“We’re just very disappointed in the Chatham-Kent police that they won’t even publicize this,” she said. “They publicize somebody shoplifting $30 from Foodland here in Ridgetown but they won’t publicize about a possible suspicious vehicle [involving] a child.”

The parent stressed the importance of having matters that involve children relayed to the public immediately. Although it was a different situation, she cited the recent Amber Alert as an example of why the public should be notified when anything suspicious involving a minor happens.

“It’s very time sensitive, especially when it comes to children because a lot of children are vulnerable,” she said. “They don’t quite understand as us adults do, what the dangers are.”

As previously stated, the student that reported being approached is safe and reported the incident to the school. As stated in the letter, teachers also took the opportunity to speak with the students in regards to personal safety. In addition to those conversations, the letter also encouraged parents to speak with their children in regards to the matter.

Moving forward, the parent who reached out to Blackburn News hopes that more proactive steps will be taken in the future to ensure that something like this becomes public information sooner rather than later.

“Ridgetown is a very small community, publicize it right away,” she said. “Get it out into the news right away so that way… a vehicle description can be put out right away [and] people can keep an eye for it.”

The parent did mention that she goes over “stranger danger” with her child on a ongoing basis.

Both the Lambton Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board have been contacted by A public school board official said they would provide further comment on Wednesday.