Squamish RCMP respond to uproar about complaint: Naked child 'not the issue'

RCMP now say their visit to a Squamish, B.C., family's home last week, prompted by a neighbour's complaint, was about safety and not the "nakedness" of a child playing outside.

After outrage over police reaction to neighbour's complaint, RCMP say response was simply about safety

Staff Sgt. Brian Cumming of Squamish RCMP said their officer was responding to a complaint about a child playing in the street, not about the four-year-old's nudity. (CBC)

RCMP now say their visit to a Squamish, B.C., family's home last week, prompted by a neighbour's complaint, was about safety and not the "nakedness" of a child playing outside.

Ian McIlwaine said he was "shaken and very upset" after an officer visited his home April 22 following a complaint from a neighbour about his four-year-old son, Tyler, playing naked in the yard three days earlier.

The story sparked outrage online, with people questioning the police and the neighbour's actions. In a statement, police confirmed the complaint was "about their son being out on the street with no clothes on a few days earlier."

On Wednesday however, Squamish RCMP met with the McIlwaines, apologized for how the matter was handled and said there was a misunderstanding about the complaint.

'The issue is child safety'

Ian McIlwaine with his two sons, Tyler (left) and Connor. McIlwaine's family received a visit from the RCMP after a neighbour complained four-year-old Tyler was playing naked outside. (Ian McIlwaine/Facebook)
Officers were responding to a concern about children playing in the street, not whether they had clothes on, said Staff Sgt. Brian Cumming.

"There was mention that the children had been naked in the street, but that really wasn't the concern. The concern was with child safety in general," said Cumming.

"The nakedness issue is just not the issue at all. The issue is child safety."

The officer was satisfied McIlwaine's two sons were in no danger and closed the file on the day of his visit, said Cumming.

"For reasons I can't fully explain, it became of interest on social media," he said.

Family accepts police apology

Following the one-hour meeting with RCMP, McIlwaine said he and his wife accept the police apology.

"We feel completely resolved," he told CBC News.

However, as for the explanation that the complaint was originally about "child safety," McIlwaine said he didn't see his boys playing in the street.

It's not clear why the neighbour, who has not been identified, waited three days to complain to police if the concern was indeed about safety.

McIlwaine said he wishes the neighbour had just spoken to him directly, rather than involving police.

The RCMP don't argue with that notion.

"I can't control that. Would it be a better way to do things? Probably, but people are free to do what they choose to do," said Cumming.

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