I read in the news this week that Trump has started working on a plan to help get homeless people off the streets in California. I would love to see our government work towards launching a relocation program to relocate families from high crime areas such as Chicago. We do not talk enough about how the children growing up in Chicago and cities like it deserve so much more than what we are giving them. Some of these children are living in constant fear, right inside America. There’s no asylum process for them, they are just stuck and have been stuck for generations.
This morning a child arrived late to his or her first class in Chicago and many other cities like it because they had to take a safe route to school. That route added another 20 minutes to their trip, but they didn’t care. They were trying to get to their safe place away from danger. The truth is, we have some neighborhoods so dangerous in America that even cops refuse to patrol them, unless they have backup.
When I worked in Dallas, I worked an investigation that led me to a neighborhood so infested by drugs and violence that cops wouldn’t even assist. Infested is an ugly word, but what would you call it? The apartment above had drug problems, the apartment across had drug problems, most of the children from the complex were removed and many of the remaining children had ongoing CPS cases. On the day I arrived, another investigator was headed to another unit in the same complex across from us.
On the day in question, I was headed to a household for a removal. The police were supposed to meet me, but I ended up having to call in another investigator to assist me, due to the mother bringing a weapon the last time I arrived. We waited nearly two hours for the cops to show up and they never did, so I said freak it, let’s go in. Upon entering the door, a cloud of smoke escaped. After I took the child and placed her somewhere safe about another hour or so went by. Finally, after I made it home a cop called and asked if I still needed assistance. I calmly said no and informed them that they missed the chance at a drug bust and hung up.
Now those families did not start out jaded. They were placed into an environment that held very little regard for doing the right thing. I ran into a female around the same time with her lease coming to a close. She was working as a security guard and trying to do the right thing. At this point she didn’t have anything negative going against her, but her obstacle was her address. I informed her that she needed to start looking for a new place to stay because her current crowd was not compatible with her goals in life.
In her case and many other women like her, moving away from the tainted areas have been pivotal of their successes. A relocation allows people to start over, get better opportunities, and find safer housing. When my husband was in the Army, relocation was always a gift. It allowed us to search for a new area, and remove our family from dangerous situations in some cases. It is important that we find a better solution for helping people who want to get out of dangerous areas.
I find it sad that we have areas inside our country that mirror third world war zones. It is even sadder that people seem to close their ears to the violence. How can we have a system that lets generations of anguish duplicate their circumstances and hinderances over and over? These people are more than a study, more than a statistic, and worth more than a few minutes on our minds. They are our children, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens, and people deserving of the same protection we aim to give others outside of America.
Yesterday I posted an article about house hunting. Over the next month or two I will be looking at houses in my area and trying to get an idea of which houses seem eco-friendly. So, this morning after I grabbed a small bag of donut holes with my daughter, I decided to look at some of the houses in our area. We were trying to see if there were any solar panels in the area right across from us. From out of nowhere I see this black car stall and slowly start to follow us. SO NOT SLICK BY THE WAY.
It was a version of the car in the picture, just wider and less cool! So, moving on with the story. I didn’t let it stop me from looking because I am a woman on a mission. I have noticed that there aren’t any homes around me with solar panels. This makes me wonder if solar panels are able to be attached to these houses because I should be able to find at least one. I do not know if a HOA would outlaw them, but still the lack of solar panels makes me worry. I didn’t see any eco-friendly devices of any sort which takes away the magical feeling of living in the area. I do not want to live in an area that might not be friendly towards those who want to protect the environment.
Anyway, while we are driving slowly looking at the designs and the top of houses. I notice this car is still following me. It is closer now like uncomfortably close. Like on my bumper darn near close. I’m in my mom mobile which is a little clunker I purchased for local travel. It’s old and I might have a scratch here or there. My husband takes our JEEP to work so I use the clunker to pick up the kids and run errands.
Okay not that old, but you get the picture. Finally as we get ready to cross the road onto the other side of the neighborhood, the BMW decides to just stop tailing me and turn around. I was a little sad, I wanted them to follow me home, so I could offer some coffee and tea. Oh well, maybe I will get the chance tomorrow, because this little wagon stops for nobody!! Was it because I was black or because I drove an old clunker!!!! Who knows, but I’ll be back!!!!
We all have different opinions when it comes to science. If you are like me, there are certain areas of science I tend to focus on perhaps a little more than others. Over the past two weeks we have started looking for a new house. Our lease ends here around April and it’s safe to say our children seem to like this area. So, now we are actively looking to buy a home within the next couple months ” God Willing” give or take a month or two in this area. So we are focusing on space, sunlight, neighborhood, and the ability for our children to walk around without cars racing down the road.
Buying a house is a big responsibility and it needs to
fulfill all the needs of a family. Yet, at the same time, I want our house to
be energy friendly. One of the things I really wanted was a swimming pool, but
swimming pools can drain a lot of energy. They can be just as costly as heating
if not more in some areas. So, we agreed that a hot tube would be a better bet.
Saltwater hot tubs are good, and it turns out they will be friendly to my
daughter’s eczema and a good pain relief for my husband’s back. They do not
hold nearly as much water as a pool and take up less energy.
Speaking of energy, I love heat. Heating in the winter kills
our electric bill. So, we are looking for houses that will be able to support
solar panels. I am looking at getting no more than 15 and no less than 7. I am
not trying to offset the entire bill, but if I can trim maybe 50 percent of it
away, that would be awesome. Our bill was running well over 400 dollars monthly
last winter which prompted me to start preparing for winter early. I went out
and purchased curtains and other little things to warm up some of the rooms.
Lastly, we will add an eco-friendly irrigation drip system
when we find the perfect area. I really suck at growing things, but that
doesn’t stop me from trying. So, with all these things really banking on sun
light, we will need to find a place with a nice amount of sun. Currently, I am
noticing a lack of sidewalks. I never really noticed it before, but most of the
areas we have visited lack sidewalks. Technically we are not in a rush, but if
the perfect house comes our way, our 21-year-old will live in the house until
our lease ends.
I’m seeing information about children who have been missing for over a month and I just wanted to share something with you. The sooner you report a child missing the sooner cops can get involved. If the police do not want to get involved, go to social media. Make sure you know which sites your children use. Get to know their handles, and the handles of their friends. If you have multiple computers keep one logged in under one of their sites so you can see movement. Also tag their phones, it might give you an idea of where they are. One of the things I ask for, which is perhaps my children’s most dreaded request, is the stand still photo.
I make them take a photo of themselves with their surroundings in view. If they are talking to someone new on social media, I make them do the cup on head photo. Why the cup on head? Easy, you might have a lot of photos in your house, but chances are you will not have any with you holding a cup on your head. You can always pick another authenticator but that’s is my thing!
Have photos of your children ready to go, you would be surprised how many people do not have updated photos of children. Keep those photos near and ready. Also make your children get school ID cards, it will help for jobs and stuff like that, until they can get state Ids.
If it is a child that might not be in your custody all the time and you suspect the child is a victim of any type of abuse you want to get Child Protective Services involved ASAP. They will be able to do a joint investigation with local law enforcement and perhaps even send out a CSCAL depending on where you live. Again you can do this if you think someone was put in harm’s way because their guardian didn’t do a good job taking care of them, this is something you would want to let CPS know. Remember we are living in a dangerous world, and there are sex trafficking hubs in every city. These traffickers are at the malls, bus stations, parks and even lurking at places like food courts.
So, try the social media sites, know the social media sites, know the friends and if you get nothing, call the cops. Do not wait for hours, call after you get no reply from the social media sites. Hey, if she comes home a few hours later all the better, but you never want to wait a day to report or even half a day to report. Report your child as a runaway if you have to, just report. If all else fails, go to social media. Use Twitter, Facebook and anything else you can get your hands on. Tweet it to the world.
I wish I could tell you that cases like the Central Park 5 no longer exist. I wish I could tell you that all investigations are done with fairness, but I won’t insult your intelligence today. The movie When They See Us is a painful reminder that not everyone with a badge or a title can be trusted to work for the betterment of their community.
I’m sure if you have been following my blog, you know my story. I turned in my badge over a year ago after I saw railroading techniques being used to trap minorities. It takes a strong person to go against their livelihood. In my situation, I transferred from another region because I wanted to move my family to a smaller town. I thought a smaller town would offer better people and a better foundation for my girls.
After I got here, I immediately started seeing issues. I came from a big city and investigations there weren’t easy. I was nearly raped, threatened by a weapon, and was even surrounded by racist at one point. Yet, I loved my job and I could see the good in helping out my community. I had a supervisor who clearly looked out for her community, she cared about trying to help children, and she cared about helping their families learn to rehabilitate in difficult situations.
I came here with background in removing children from parents using cocaine and meth. I also had the removals that resulted in removals from people who no longer wanted to be parents. After I got here, my very first case was a case involving an African American mother from another state. She had relatives here and a mother hours away. Not only did she have a mother hours away, the children had a father who was trying to see how he could get in route to pick up his children.
While I was trying to work with the family on finding a solution my supervisor was trying to push a removal on the mother due to her getting arrested. Keep in mind, there was an aunt living in the household and people who could have been here within hours. The policemen looked at me and asked me if I was really going to let that happen, and I reaffirmed them that I would do everything in my power to stop it.
After going back and forward with my boss I was able to get her to work with the family until we were able to get the father or grandmother headed in our direction. The thing about removals is that they often do not get overturned. They last for at least a year and children are forced to stay in foster care. So, if there is a family member, we were taught to do everything within our power to unite that child with their family, but in this unit they didn’t do that. Even after this case was ready for closure, and the female had her children back in another state my supervisor was trying to get the state to take action against the mom. The state politely let us know that the mother was doing good and to bud out at this point.
I have always been very careful about removals due to the stress that it places on the children. I removed only when I needed to and questioned anything that looked fishy even when it wasn’t my removal. A few cases later I came across a female who had just gotten out of the hospital. She tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana is not something that we remove for in the state of Texas. People get a quitting marijuana packet due to it not being crack or meth.
When I gave her an oral swab her medications that she had been given at surgery showed up. Keep in mind she had just been released from the hospital and her urine didn’t have any traces of those drugs nor the baby’s prior to or while giving birth. I still went on and confirmed with the nurses as to the type of medication that this lady was given. My supervisor wanted me to remove once again due to her results coming back positive even though she knew she had just had a c-section.
She swore up and down that a positive meant she had used something. I told her to google the medication and see what positives would show up and she did, but she still didn’t want to believe me or the medical professionals. I informed her that I wouldn’t be doing a removal because this mother wasn’t doing anything that warranted a removal. I even gave her another drug test which came back negative two days later.
I have always had issues with investigators who removed and placed kids into foster care without trying to locate family members. She and others stated that it took too long. The process could take hours, but it was still worth it if you could keep the family together and maintain safety. She talked about how she would talk only to PDs who would lean towards removals because she didn’t want to do family placements. Again this is killing the families, but she didn’t care. Once she joked about being the Removal Queen. All I could hear was I’m messed up so many families due to not wanting to put in extra time on family placements.
We already knew that in most cases that minorities were targeted by false calls. Did you know that only 15 percent of CPS cases are real abuse? That means that 85 percent are lies and anyone can call in on people. While we have had some cases that were real, we have had so many more that were nothing more than vendettas.
Here’s the cold hard truth about cases in the black community and Spanish communities. When people look to remove often times these families will not be able to get their children back. If they have any sort of record dealing from old cases, criminal cases or people in the house with any central registry case they will be voided out as a potential caregiver. There are so many minorities with charges on them due to possession of marijuana, criminal trespass or failure to identify. Then if that doesn’t get them there’s a case on them for being victims of domestic violence.
They changed the regulation on domestic violence about 1 yr or 2 yrs ago. Prior to that if you were involved in a domestic violence relationship and were a victim they could put a reason to believe on you. So, the victim would get victimized twice. In some states they still do this, they still charge the victim with a reason to believe which knocks them out for any job dealing with children, or elderly. It also prevents them from taking family members if children are ever removed in the future.
I finally quit my job because of a case that should have been a removal, but my boss didn’t want to believe the children who were the victims in the case. I worked the case with at least three other law officials from two other states. The parent was a runner and drug abuser. She was grooming her children to be sexually abused while their father was looking for them. The father spent time in prison for manslaughter only because the state didn’t have a law on the books for self defense. I found out everything about the dad. He was a good hardworking citizen, paid his dues, took parenting classes, and even earned certificates. He had held down a job, his only true crime was being black and trying to stop a white man from killing him.
I found out that he had been looking for his children for years while the mother was letting them get beaten and molested. So, I let him take his children and my boss knew this, but you better believe she lied to the program manager about it. The program manager who was just as crazy as she was wanted us to get the kids back. Here’s the issue, because they didn’t want to remove those kids, they would have went back to the mom and the abuser. So, there was no way in hell I was going to do that. I called the dad told him to get a lawyer. Needless to say, anything else would have been just as crazy as the prior cases, so I quit soon after that case.
This father wasn’t going to be able to protect his children because of a conviction he got due to him trying to defend himself. He was already victimized by the system once and then we were going to let his children become victims of the system again. If you are poor, black or mentally ill the system will not work for you as it would for someone with a different stack of cards. Your only hope is to get a person who cares. When They See Us might be about the Central Park 5, but the issue is that, the stain of racism has soaked so deep into the fabric of what and who we are. It is in outcomes of child abuse cases, criminal cases and even family courts in some arenas. We have to understand that the fight isn’t over. There’s still work to be done.
Many of you have probably seen the show on Hulu called The Act. As an ex child abuse investigator, I have been pretty vocal on knowing what and when to report child abuse. This morning we are going to talk about learning how to report abuse and when normal isn’t normal.
One of my most emotional cases dealt with a young mother who nearly mastered the art of deception. The case was centered around a toddler who was subject to multiple surgeries and needless test. By the time I entered the picture the mother had started keeping a visual log of photos detailing her abuse. I still remember seeing the enormous stack of photos and having a chill of sudden fear run down my spine.
I’ll never know why she kept so many photos of her son detailing every sick moment. My gut tells me that she was going to use those photos as a reason to assign death at a later date. We are talking about hundreds of photos with nothing but sickness and a detailed walk down torture lane. She knew the right words, she knew the right people, but she got a little too overconfident in the end.
In the end I got my butt chewed off by our lawyers and the judge because I did something most investigators would never do, I went against the hospital by forcing their hand in learning the truth. When I got the case this child was slowly dying, he wasn’t gaining weight, and he was on a pure liquid diet. I had to threaten hospital social workers in order to keep him safe, but by the end of three weeks, I had all medical proof I needed.
His vitals rebounded, he gained well into the 50th percentile and he was now starting to eat by mouth. The child I saw weeks ago couldn’t sit up and he couldn’t wave at me. Now he was now able to walk around the hospital room and give me his toy trucks. We were awarded custody of him, but we couldn’t get the DA to sign off on charges of child abuse due to them not knowing much about the Munchausen Syndrome.
Two things could have saved this kid a lot of pain and heartache. The first thing is having a medical professional call in a case prior to him being nearly 4 or 5. By the time I stepped in, he had already been to quite a few hospitals. All of the doctors said they suspected something was off. They were taking notes, but the mother moved from place to place.
Correspondence is key when you are dealing with someone who suffers from this syndrome. If these hospitals would have linked up a year ago, this child would have been removed a lot sooner. Another provider stated that she felt like they were being forced into performing surgeries by the parent. The parent knew just enough medical terminology to fake symptoms and syndromes.
This child was surrounded by medical personnel but it took years for someone to call in the abuse. Remember you work for the child. If you are an investigator , be diligent. I know the department presses you to close cases due to numbers, but life surpasses any number system. If you feel like something feels wrong, investigate it. Do not close that case until YOU are sure that child is safe.
Lastly, never assume that certain people can’t be abusers. If you saw little Todd walking and eating three months ago and now every time you see him he has a sippy cup in hand, ask why. If you babysit this child and he eats for you, but the mother swears that he can’t eat, ask why. If you still feel like something is off, call CPS. You just might be saving a life.
We live in a nation that offers great promise to those people who are willing to work hard. Ask any self made millionaire or billionaire and they will tell you, nothing short of hard work helped to enhance their lifestyle. My parents grew up working in the potato fields with their parents until they grew of age. They were able to save enough money working in those fields to buy the land we now call home.
I never thought about the meaning of hard work growing up because it was just part of our life. My father would get off of his job and come home and farm the land. It was normal for me to help with picking greens, peas, and even snapping beans because it was our way of living. As an adult, I now understand that my parents were doing what any other hard working person was doing, they were trying to make sure we were able to survive.
As I would grow older, I would start to listen to music aimed at bringing awareness to poverty and different lifestyles. After I got married, I found out for the first time what it felt like to live on a budget. Budgets weren’t fun, but being hungry wasn’t either. I soon learned that college was our only way to securing a better life. We were determined to make it work for our children just as our parents were determined to make it work for us.
In both instances hard work was the only way to make a difference. After my husband got out of the Army, I started working for the shelter system. I was able to see women take as little as 30 percent of their incomes and buy condos for stability. It was enlightening and encouraging to see how people wanted to rise from the ashes of poverty and forge a new future.
While working in investigations I ran into many kinds of people. I ran into those who were trying to make a difference and those who had given up.
I saw apartment complexes full of drugs, prostitution, abuse, and other criminal activity. I witnessed complexes who had seen mass removals of children that once frequented the area. Many of these people lived like they were in third world countries. The apartments were run down, pee soaked the sidewalks and the walls. People could be seen walking from complex to complex with beers in hand, all before noon. These people lived in free housing.
Sometimes, when we give free housing to those who can do better, we help to increase the likelihood of drug usage. I’m not telling you a stat, I am telling you the tale of two complexes. Many of the removals that came out of those areas dealt with families, living in free housing. I once had a manager come out and ask me if we could just bring a bus and round up all the kids! I looked at her and frowned, but after I got inside the area, I understood the reason. The drug problem had gotten so out of control that it had started to roll over into other properties.
We couldn’t even get policemen to come with us in those areas. I once had to enter an apartment with another investigator that was riddled with drugs and weapons. Two hours after I made it home, police officers called and asked if I made it out okay. I know Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be telling the world that she wants this wonderful idea of utopia to exist for all people, but the fact is, people need work. I’m sure Ms. Cortez went to college because she wanted to work. I find it a little hypocritical to tell others to be lazy when you know working is the key to a healthy future.
If you want to help people, you tell them how they can rise above their current situation. You give them hope by bringing in new programs to help assist with personal growth. We should be helping our neighborhoods to do better and we should be talking about the need for HIV tents that pop up like flowers. It’s time to get real about helping those who need help, or politely get out of the way of those of us who are trying to help people do better in life.