In recent days a Montpelier man speaking with multiple youths, offering invitations and using troubling, but not overtly sexual, language via Facebook has led to concern among parents in the area.
And while none of his words or actions were found to have amounted to a criminal offense after an investigation by the Montpelier Police Department, the subject has been advised to cease all contact and his concerning status with the department was made known to him by authorities.
On Tuesday, Montpelier Police Chief Dan McGee turned his focus to advising parents about strangers in light of the now-closed, multi-day investigation that featured examination of presented evidence and multiple interviews.
“Kids are going to be out riding their bikes and doing things. Parents need to make sure they have prepared their kids,” said McGee.
“That starts with having a real talk with them about, ‘Don’t talk with strangers. Make sure we know where you’re at at all times. If there’s an issue go to the police or call me right away.’”
McGee advised making that talk specific to internet interaction as well.
In any such situation, McGee advised against going to Facebook to publish details, as misinformation can spread rapidly, leading to further issues rather than a resolution.
“I don’t believe it’s good practice to start publishing things online about people because you don’t know if what you’re publishing is completely accurate,” said McGee, pointing to the recent example in which someone presented a sex offender registry notification for a man who lived in a different state with the same name as the individual who was the subject of the Montpelier investigation, although it was a totally different person.
The subject of the investigation had no history of related issues, according to McGee, who said his department would be closely monitoring the situation.
“I’m not trying to take away from people’s concerns. I’m a parent, I get it,” he said. “But we have to allow the law to be the law ... The law is very clear about certain acts and making contact with people or saying weird things to them that make us uncomfortable isn’t necessarily illegal, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand why there is concern.”
McGee welcomed anyone with further information to come to his department and said police would look into it.