‘Suspicious incident’ marked ‘harmless misunderstanding’

Apple Valley Police assuage concerns after YMCA pickup incident

According to an Apple Valley police report, an unidentified female attempted to pick up two children from a YMCA summer youth program. The incident occurred on Wednesday, Aug. 16. at 3:30 p.m. at Westview Elementary School.

The woman approached program staff and provided the names of two children she intended to pick up. The staff, following checkout procedure, determined the woman was not authorized to pick up the children. The children stated they did not know the woman.

The woman left in a black SUV with Minnesota license plates. Three children were in the vehicle with her. Apple Valley police encouraged anyone with information to call the station.

YMCA staff said that it has checkout procedures in place for situations such as these.

“The safety of the kids is always our top priority. We have a reliable system, and it worked flawlessly,” said Joan Schimml, senior director of communications and marketing for the Burnsville YMCA.

On Friday, Aug. 18, Apple Valley police released a statement that they’d identified the woman. After speaking with her, they determined the incident was “a harmless misunderstanding involving kids with similar-sounding names.”

Apple Valley police Capt. John Bermel said the incident presents no threat to the community.

“This was a harmless misunderstanding, and we have not had any other similar incidents happen,” he said.

Bermel said the incident exemplifies how important it is for kids and staff to follow safety measures.

“The YMCA staff did their job and the kids who were approached did their job. They recognized this wasn’t someone they should go with. That is the best way to prevent this type of thing. We can’t prevent a misunderstanding – but everybody did what they were supposed to do in this situation,” he said.

Bermel said he encourages parents to have continuous conversations with their children about pick-up procedures. He also said he encourages child care facilitators to review and follow their protocols.

Contact Amy Mihelich at [email protected]