Online Originals: Consequences for leaving kids, pets in unattended vehicles

Online Originals

As quickly as the summer heat rolls in, the temperature inside vehicles is even hotter. That’s why the Jacksonville Police Department is reminding drivers not to leave kids or pets in unattended vehicles. 

“The inside of the vehicle, when it’s turned off,” Sergeant Williams said. “It just takes a matter of minutes. If the outside temperature is 90 degrees, in 5 or 10 minutes, it’s well above 100 degrees, so it heats up very rapidly.”

Sergeant Williams says there are consequences that come with leaving children in vehicles unattended, even if the car is left running with the doors locked and the AC is on. 

“You left that child unattended,” Sergeant Williams said. “That’s child endangerment charge. If the child is injured, you get into child abuse charges and this can be misdemeanor or felonies depending on the injury, you know don’t intentionally leave your child in there just to run in because those lines might be long, but in the end it’s just unsafe and it’s against the law.”

Williams says accidents can also happen while leaving children unattended in vehicles. 

“Kids are smart,” Sergeant Williams said. “They can unbuckle themselves, and heaven forbid one of them was to put the vehicle in gear and it rolls backward, things like that can happen.”

Or worse. 

“People steal cars. Easily smash a window, drive away, not realizing there’s a child, they just want your car, and don’t realize there’s a kid in the back seat,” Sergeant Williams said.

JPD recommends that people contact the local agency instead of taking matters into their own hands. 

“By statute, only law enforcement officers, patrol officer firefighter, or rescue squad has the authority under the law to break the window out, and that’s even after we’ve made reasonable attempts to contact the owner,” Sergeant Williams said.

Williams says there are ways to prevent these situations.

“Everybody’s minds are just going, so slow down, and be mindful,” Sergeant Williams said. “As you’re walking past the car when you get out, just glance over and take a look. It only takes half a second, just look.”

JPD also recommends that owners leave their pets at home while running errands, like grocery shopping. 

“You can leave the car running with the air conditioning on and you think that the pet is good to go, but again it comes back to you come back and your car is not there anymore because somebody stole it,” Sergeant Williams said.


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