Today we are looking at a situation that has been centuries in the making. We have an accountability issue from the very top of the government to the lowest levels of leadership in our towns and cities. In most cases, we did not get here by accident; we got here because people too often take shortcuts. Instead of doing things the right way, we gamble with safety and other basic rights.
From our leaders to our protectors, we see the same problems year after year. It is seen in schools, police departments, hospitals, government jobs, and the highest level of government known as the presidency. When I worked as a domestic violence advocate some years ago, I would often have to attend conferences. Many of the conferences educated us on new laws and services available to victims of violence.
My time spent working as a domestic violence advocate and legal advocate educated me on a lot of things. Mostly, it showcased prejudice within different departments. Some cities did a great job of protecting their citizens. However, other cities practiced near predatory actions towards victims.
One case comes to mind, involving a young woman being separated from her children. She was choked by her boyfriend, and as a means of self-defense, she scratched him to get him off her. You could see bruises on her neck, but it didn’t stop the cops from arresting her. While she was in jail, the man took control of her baby and dropped her young daughter off at the CPS office. He then rushed to file child support charges against her and had her served with a restraining order.
We read the numerous text he sent her, which showed how abusive he was. He took advantage of the system because he knew the cops in that particular city cared nothing about domestic violence. Often the shelters would do more to try to hide and protect women in some areas because the cops just didn’t do enough.
After I started working as an investigator; I would soon work hand in hand with some of these officers, I previously complained about. One of my cases involved, Amber Guyger the cop sentenced in the death of Botham Jean. She was one of the most helpful officers I encountered. Seeing her whole ordeal play out nationally was gut-wrenching because I could see the issues on both sides of the coin.
Violence against women and people of color have been minimized for centuries. While the part of me that knew Guyger professionally felt for her, there was another part that knew the attitude of policemen regarding people in vulnerable situations. There is a whole lot of minimizing that goes on behind those doors which leads to trouble.
My daughter was dating a young PFC from a base near our city. He wanted to come over and see her after the sun went down a few weeks ago. I hated that I needed to explain to her why his traveling at night wasn’t a good idea because of the color of his skin. I explained that it was safer for him to come in the day because he would be seen as less of a threat.
You know how young children are, they wanted to see each other so, he came anyway. On his way to our house, two policemen pulled him over with two different squad cars. He called and was like I’m being pulled over, we quickly informed her to tell him to make sure his hands were noticeable at all times and to stay calm.
Why do I have to tell someone who looks like me to be careful about doing the same thing any other American does? We have to stop minimizing the issue with racial profiling and prejudice. We have to start warning our young people to be careful when approached by people in uniforms. The cities have to do more to ensure that people are trained properly in all forms of dealing with the public. It is time to explain what cities must do to build trust within our communities. I am not talking about taking funds away because I do not think that is the answer, but it might be time to talk about imposing new standards on hiring policemen. We need assessments that are geared towards seeking out racism during the screening stages of potential hires. If anything this might cost more money, but you cannot put a price tag on saving lives.
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.
I’ve been struggling with something lately. This past weekend my daughter walked to the store which isn’t very far from our house. She informed us that on the way to the store a cop slowed down to a near crawl and drove beside her. She then stated that it made her nervous so the turned around and walked the other way. The policeman then turned around and proceeded to follow her in that direction as well.
Due to the cop making her nervous she decided to go to another store which ended up being a little closer than the first store she planned on visiting. As she entered the store, the cop drove away. We have had talks about staying away from trouble. She does a good job of it, to be honest. She doesn’t really go anywhere with anyone. We have covered the basics, even warned her about staying away from hoodies which is something she had on last weekend. She hates the sun! I’m feeling kind of confused and stressed about the policeman following my daughter, to be honest. I never thought I would have to explain the dangers of being a minority female on foot. We tell her to watch out for strangers, watch out for people who look jittery, but we haven’t had to talk to her about watching out for cops.
I used to bake cupcakes and bring our cops back in Garland treats to help show our appreciation. Hell, I would even go to Taco Bell and grab food just to take it to patrol cars to show how much we cared. I’m scared because the atmosphere is changing and in many ways it has changed. I told my daughter something totally different this weekend when we talked about the encounter with the officer. I told her to be careful, face the officer, and smile if he follows you. Then I started thinking about what I was saying. Why was some officer following my daughter around and is she safe here in this small town, we call home?
Just what do we tell our children about interactions with the police?
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.