Today, Sunday at 11:30 a.m., my 18-year old son was backing his own car out of our driveway on Lake Avenue (where we have lived for 4 years), in order to drop-off my 13 year old son at a Bar Mitzvah party. Two other friends of my son (both 17 years old) who had slept over at our house the night before, were politely standing with my 13-year old, waiting for the car to back out of our narrow driveway so they could all get inside. Piedmont Police Officer Steve DeWarns drove his police car and parked it directly behind my son’s car blocking him in the driveway. The officer got out of his car and asked the two other friends (who are African-American and Latino) whether they lived at the house they were standing in front of. They politely said no, but motioned to my son in his car and explained that this was their friend’s house. Officer DeWarns then ordered the two 17 year olds and my 13 year old son to get down on the curb and demanded to see their I.D. (Yes, the officer actually asked my 13 year old son, who was wearing a Piedmont baseball sweatshirt, for his I.D.). All 4 of the boys who were harassed and humiliated by Officer DeWarns are Piedmont students, and two of them were wearing Piedmont athletic gear. The boys were holding nothing in their hands other than one Bar Mitzvah card with a $25.00 check inside. They were dressed in appropriate springtime clothing, simply standing on private property where 2 out of 4 of the boys reside. Officer DeWarns did not even pretend to come up with a reason as to why he stopped to question the boys. He then ordered my 18 year old son to put the car in park, step out of the car and get down on the curb. My son, like the other 3 Piedmont students, complied. He also told Officer DeWarns that he lived at the house (he was driving his car which is registered at our home address on Lake Avenue). Officer DeWarns told my 18 year old to show some I.D. My son complied. It was at that moment (my son’s I.D. matched the address of the private property he was on and the car that he was in) that the officer presumably discovered he had made a severe miscalculation. Nevertheless, the officer held the boys on the curb for some time and called for back-up before he realized his dreadful error. Unfortunately for Office DeWarns, he was apparently unaware that others witnessed this entire humiliating display by the Piedmont Police Department. Office DeWarns without apology mumbled something about there being a lot of crime in the area. Neighbors - I know Baja wants police involvement in crime prevention, but is this what you had in mind?
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