Air Force apologizes to family after Ohio traffic stop

Officers pulled guns on the family and cuffed the adults in front of the children in what turned out to be a misunderstanding.
TNS Regional News
Apr 13, 2014


A Columbus family said their children were traumatized after what was meant to be a fun trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton ended with guns drawn on them.

Alice Hill, 65, her daughter-in-law Wendy and two young grandchildren visited the museum on April 4 and, as they were leaving, were ordered to get out of their vehicle by Military Police. Hill said the officers pulled guns on the family and cuffed the adults in front of the children, according to an incident report

"I never in my life thought somebody would pull a gun on me, especially a cop," said Alice Hill, a grandmother of seven who lives near Circleville.

Initial reports indicated the van had been reported stolen so security forces executed a "high-risk traffic stop," WPAFB officials said in a written statement.

The family was detained for roughly 90 minutes as authorities sorted through questions about whether the van was stolen -- it wasn't -- and whether they were casing cars in the lot -- they weren't.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base security officials said the incident turned out to be a misunderstanding; they believed family members were riding in a stolen vehicle.

"An initial check of the vehicle plates with the National Law Enforcement Terminal System reported the vehicle as stolen," according to a base statement Tuesday. "Security forces responded as trained, and executed high-risk traffic stop procedures. Further investigation of the full vehicle information number revealed the vehicle was not stolen."

A witness had called security to report that the family was acting suspiciously, peering into various cars in the museum's parking lot. Hill told police she and her 8-year-old grandson Aaron were checking out license plates around the lot to see how far some visitors had traveled.

"My son was excited to see different state license plates, especially the Alaska plate he saw on the way in," 31-year-old Wendy Hill told police. "We drove the lot to see if he missed any before we left to go home. That was when we were stopped."

Base officials have since apologized to the family.

"We sincerely regret the fact that their enjoyable day at the museum ended with this high-risk traffic stop," their statement read. "Had the vehicle not originally come back as stolen, this situation would have been resolved with a quick courtesy stop of the vehicle to clarify the initial report."

WPAFB officials said they conveyed directly to the Hill family sincere regrets that the museum visit ended with the traffic stop and noted that procedures were being followed in accordance with a report of a stolen vehicle.

Alice Hill said authorities have not reached out with an apology and she had difficulty getting a copy of the police report.

The family made a stop at the Air Force Museum while on spring break and otherwise had a great time visiting the museum, Alice Hill said.

When asked if the family would return to the museum, Ryan Hill -- father of the children -- said, "Hell no."


By Laura A. Bischoff and Clint Davis - Dayton Daily News, Ohio

©2014 Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services



Ok so why did the plate come back stolen?

JMOP's picture

It said " Further investigation of the full vehicle information number revealed the vehicle was not stolen."
Who reported it stolen, and was it before or after someone said the granny and kid looked suspicious?

Are the plates always ran for areas like this?


If someone reported it suspicious, the first thing they did was run the plate. When it came back "stolen" that is what put this ugly mistake in motion. Just like any other suspicious activity. If I called the cops for a suspicious car in my neighborhood in the civilian world it would work the same way. I give a description of a vehicle and or a plate. Or when they found the vehicle they would run the plate. Military police on a base work the same way. Especially with this being in a "public" area with civilians where public access is allowed. They were not in a restricted area. Nothing out of the ordinary happened here.

JMOP's picture

Nothing out of the ordinary, except not double checking the plates before drawing guns out on innocent people in front of children.


How do you know they didn't recheck the plates? Do you really think this is the whole story.

JMOP's picture

"Had the vehicle not originally come back as stolen, this situation would have been resolved with a quick courtesy stop of the vehicle to clarify the initial report."

Notice the word originally? The definition of originally is:
orig·i·nal·ly. adverb \ə-ˈri-jə-nəl-ē; -ˈrij-nə-lē, -ˈri-jən-\. : in the beginning : when something first happened or began.

Whole story, maybe not, but at least it has statements taken from both sides. Unlike most stories printed in the Reflector or Register.

journey rules

Idiot's probably typed the plate in wrong !! lol


And I would have entered the plate again just to be sure before taking an agressive stance. Especially if I could tell it was a family with young kids. I for one would not want to draw my gun if I didn't need to but these days you never know!


This could have happened in civilian world just the same. No different just because it happened on a military base. Police are police, they are trained to respond a stolen vehicle the same.

hit the road jack

If you think this is bad wait till they get this app on their cell phones for homeland security,with every dim wit in the country thinking they are going to be a hero and report someone for something they should not stick their nose into,boy oh boy,I can see and hear it now.


Yea, that should make for some interesting nightly news!


Sad that the liberals (Bush and other liberals on both sides) assassinated our protection from such abuses when they voted to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act.

"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither"
Ben Franklin


Was in the business for a long time. What happens is when you run a plate sometimes a soundex hit returns. Meaning the vin number closely matches a vin number of a vehicle which has been reported stolen. And the vehicle you have MAY POTENTIALLY be stolen but is not exact. When a dispatcher or officer sees the stolen warning they may over react and swiftly take action. Then after double checking they would see it was a soundex hit. Oops! It happens and the soundex hits are common but not every day. The people involved should be re trained on how to read a printout