It was 1:30 a.m., and 10-year-old Lena Draper needed help.
The fifth-grader from central Ohio had a problem in her math homework that she couldn’t figure out. So she reached out to somewhere she thought could provide a solution: her local police department.
“I’m having trouble with my homework,” she wrote to the Marion, Ohio Police Department on Facebook. “[C]ould you help me?”
The department Facebook page sent her an automated reply warning it was “not monitored 24/7,” but less than two hours later, Lt. B. J. Gruber responded, according to WGHP: “What’s up?”
“I need a little help with my homework,” Lena wrote back in a series of messages. “I don’t understand (8+29) x 15?”
Gruber directed: “Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence, it would be 37 x 15”
“Ok now if I had this (90+27)+(29+15)x2,” Lena asked.
“Take the answer from the first parenthesis plus the answer from the second parenthesis and multiply that answer by two,” Gruber wrote.
Lena’s mother Molly Draper shared screenshots of the conversation on Facebook Friday, praising the police department for “truly building relationships with the community.”
But eagle-eyed commenters noted there was just one problem with Gruber’s second answer — it was wrong. The math problem required multiplying only the value inside the second set of parentheses by 2, rather than the sum from both parentheses.
The answer Gruber’s directions would have yielded was 322. The correct answer would have been 117 + 88, which equals 205.
In a comment, the police department thanked Draper for her praise and said it was “happy to offer her some help... We love Marion but especially true with our kids.”
The department also promised it would double-check its work in the future: “Next time we will use one of our ‘lifelines’ for the math questions.”