Franklin officers, dispatcher to be recognized in child abuse case

The kindness and compassion demonstrated by three Franklin police officers and a dispatcher who assisted a 7-year-old boy who was trying to sell a stuffed animal to get money for some food will be recognized at the Franklin City Council meeting today, Nov. 7.

Police Chief Russell Whitman said Officers Steve Dunham, Amanda Myers and Kyle O’Neal and Dispatcher Lindsay Alvarez will each receive the Police Exemplary Performance Award for their actions in a child endangerment situation that found deplorable living conditions in the home where the boy and his five brothers ages 11, 12, 15, and 17, were living in on Aug. 7.

Their parents were later arrested and each charged with five counts of endangering children, all first degree-misdemeanors.

Dunham found the boy wandering around downtown Franklin without any shoes. The boy told Dunham that he hadn't eaten in several days. He took the boy across the street to a Subway restaurant, where he bought him something to eat before taking him to the police station. While they were at the restaurant, Myers and O'Neal went to the child's home on North Main Street, where they found the other four boys, ages 11, 12, 15 and 17 living in squalor in a house full of garbage, cat urine and liquor bottles. After feeding the boy, Dunham left him in the care of Alvarez at the police station so he could join Myers and O'Neal at the home.

Warren County Children Services did an emergency removal of the children and placed them with relatives. The parents are not allowed to have any contact with the boys, who are in the care of their grandmother.

The kindness of the three officers and dispatcher garnered national attention when the story hit the Internet. The police department was inundated with calls and emails from across the nation and the world commending Dunham for the way he assisted the boy. Dunham told the Journal-News that he was "surprised" with the amount of attention this incident created.

The Franklin community also provided various amounts of assistance from groceries to back-to-school clothes from the Franklin Walmart store.

Whitman said the Police Exemplary Performance Award may be awarded for exemplary service far above average in areas that warrant recognition but do not fall within the scope of other awards. He said Dunham, Myers, O’Neal and Alvarez will receive a red citation bar and a certificate.

“I’m proud of the work these officers and dispatcher do every day,” Whitman said. “This was a great time to recognize them.”