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QUINCY — Robbie Richardson wants to be a police officer when he grows up. During the Memorial Day weekend, the 6-year-old Quincy boy got a taste for what it’s like to be behind the badge.

Robbie dialed 911 to get in touch with the police Saturday after his father, Michael Richardson, ran a red light while the two were out running errands.

Michael said that after stopping at a light near Furnace Brook Parkway, he proceeded to take a right turn on red.

As he rolled through the intersection, Robbie belted out that his dad had broken the law.

Robbie wasn’t shy about it Wednesday. “I told him to stop, but he didn’t listen,” he said outside his family’s home.


At the time, Michael tried to explain to his son that it was OK to take a right turn at a red under certain circumstances.

Robbie wasn’t convinced. He knows his traffic laws.

“When a green light says go, you go that way, or that way, or that way, or that way,” he said, motioning with his hands different directions a car can drive. “A yellow light makes you slow. And then a red light makes you stop.”

Mom taught him that, he said. Not Dad.

Robbie warned his father — they were headed to the car wash in Robbie’s mother’s white Nissan Rogue — that as soon as they returned home, he was going to notify the police.

Michael laughed, he said, and brushed off the comment.

But Robbie wasn’t bluffing.

“I called the police,” said Robbie, who enjoys sitting inside a toy police cruiser and propelling it around the driveway while making siren sounds. “I know how to call the police. Easy peasy.”

As Michael, his wife, Joleen, and their 18-month-old daughter enjoyed the sunny weather outside on Saturday, firing up the grill for a start-of-the-summer feast, Robbie headed with determination to the house.


It was then he picked up the phone, unbeknownst to his parents, and dialed the emergency number.

“Um, daddy went past a red light,” Robbie said during the 911 call, which was shared nearly 200 times on Facebook by Wednesday afternoon. “He was in a brand-new car, my mummy’s car.”

When the dispatcher asked what happened next, Robbie told him that his father was headed to the car wash, but seemed to have been in a hurry to get there.

“Then he went past the red light,” Robbie again explained.

The dispatcher then asked to talk to the boy’s father.

Michael said his son brought the phone outside, where the family was preparing their meal.

“He has the cordless phone in his hand and he says, ‘Dad, somebody called, they want to talk to you,’ ” Michael said. “And I look at the number on there and I saw 911, and I kind of sank a little bit.”

He knew the jig was up.

Michael said he may have been shocked — so much so that he accidentally told the dispatcher his son was 5 years old — to learn there was a police official on the other end of the line.

But he wasn’t surprised that his son had stuck to his word, and reported the alleged misdeed.

“He’s a smart kid. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it,” Michael said. “He doesn’t bluff.”


Michael apologized to the dispatcher for allegedly running the red light — and for his son’s calling 911 for a nonemergency. The family then turned the situation into a teachable moment for their son.

“We talked to him, and told him you can only call in an emergency,” Joleen said. She said she had taught her son how to call 911, in the event that the family really does require immediate assistance from first responders. “But I didn’t think he was going to call like that.”

Robbie, like his father, learned his lesson — next time his father runs a red light, he won’t call 911.

“When my daddy goes past a red light again, I’ll call the eye doctor,” Robbie said. “So he can fix his eyes.”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.