Police

Nowadays, even burgers are political…

A couple of days ago, I read about how several people working at Five Guys in Daphne, Alabama took it upon themselves not to serve some police officers who came in for dinner. Apparently, they cops didn’t have masks as they approached. They went back to their vehicles to get the masks and when they returned, one of the cops overheard a worker say, “I’m not serving them,” as other employees turned their backs on them. The officers took their business elsewhere, complained to the store’s management, and the incident became international news. The employees involved in the incident have all either been suspended or terminated, and everyone working at the Daphne, Alabama outlet of Five Guys has had to endure extra training.

I was left shaking my head as I read this story. I had originally shared it on my Facebook page with the comment, “Not cool.” A friend asked which part of the story wasn’t cool. My response was that the employees choosing not to serve the police officers wasn’t cool. He approved of that comment, as I figured he would. I have a feeling he thinks I’m a bleeding heart liberal through and through. The fact is, I’m really not that liberal about all things. I don’t like corrupt politicians, and there are plenty of those on either side of the political spectrum. Hell, I don’t like corrupt “PEOPLE”. I’m no Trump fan, as most people know, but that doesn’t mean I don’t embrace some conservative values, like doing one’s job when one is on the clock, being paid.

One of my very liberal friends decided to weigh in on the issue. She supported what the workers did, because of #blacklivesmatter and #defundthepolice. I had posted that not all cops are corrupt, but she maintained that the Five Guys workers had every right to turn the police officers’ mealtime into a political statement because some cops are corrupt. She also thinks that since this is now “news”, the people who decided to protest the police on company time have done a great service to the movement. I disagree, of course, and here’s why.

I don’t know much about Daphne, Alabama, and I know nothing about the people who chose to protest on company time. But I do know something about living in the South. A cursory look at Daphne on Google tells me that it’s kind of a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, which is a pretty good sized city. So maybe, if the people working in that restaurant have their own transportation, being fired from Five Guys isn’t a big deal. They can go out and get another job with ease. My friend also pointed out that it’s a “fast food” place, and those jobs are a dime a dozen, and that’s usually true, especially when you live in a city…

But it looks like Daphne isn’t the biggest town. I grew up in a town much the same size. I left there permanently over twenty years ago, and people there still remember me. That was BEFORE the Internet really took off, which has made the world a smaller place than it used to be. Although I haven’t seen the names or pictures of the people who protested, my guess is that local people know who was involved. That might make getting a new job in Daphne problematic for them. Consider, too, that the people in that town probably don’t appreciate such a stunt. Based on the negative comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page, it looks like maybe the “message” sent by the protest was lost on the local populace, who would be the people I would expect the protesters were targeting.

Again– if the people involved have access to their own transportation, maybe it’s not a big deal. But what if one or more of them has to walk to and from work? It can be a real pisser if your commute by foot goes from a half a mile to two or three miles, especially in July in Alabama. Does Daphne have a bus system? I don’t know. Taxis can be very expensive. So is gas, especially if you don’t have a job. On the other hand, that could also work the other way. Perhaps it’s a minor point.

Of course, I don’t know anything about the ex employee protesters. Maybe the Five Guys gig was a second job that provided extra cash, rather than a main stream of income. Maybe they could afford to lose the job. But what if they couldn’t? Now they’ll probably have to look for new work during a pandemic. That might not be easy for them, and again, I’m not sure what they did really changed anyone’s hearts and minds about the police.

Another thing that occurred to me is that the workers were basically protesting unfair treatment and discrimination by the police toward black and brown people. It seems kind of strange to me that their response to that problem is to turn around and do the same thing. Fight discrimination by being discriminatory toward a group of people who do police work? Even if the police officers were exemplary cops who had made the town safer? And even now, a few days later, it’s not exactly clear to me if that was what they were doing when they turned their backs on the cops. At first, it seemed like the protest was about #blacklivesmatter, but then I saw something about face masks and how the cops didn’t have them at first. So were they being refused service due to a lack of masks? Or was this a statement on the corrupt nature of the police? Did they plan to do this in advance, or was this a spontaneous decision? What was the message?

Finally, the very essence of working in a fast food restaurant is service. If you’re a fast food worker who chooses not to serve someone simply on the basis of their employment, you’re not doing your job. For that reason, you deserve to be fired, and other employers would be within their rights not to hire you for a similar position. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe the people who got fired don’t want or need a similar position. BUT– my guess is that if they do decide they want to work at one of Five Guys’ competitors or any other service related job, this issue will arise anew. Cops are people too, and they have needs. If you’re unwilling or unable to serve them, then you’re not a good fit for the service industry.

I don’t blame people for being angry about the way some police officers have treated some people. I also know about a certain very famous football player who famously “takes a knee” when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played. Many people who take issue with Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel in protest say that he shouldn’t be protesting while on the clock. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other if he kneels, because I don’t follow football, and ultimately when he plays football, he is doing his job. Kneeling while the anthem plays may be disrespectful, but it doesn’t affect his actual work. However, Colin Kaepernick is also a famous football star, and he can probably afford to use his platform in such a way. Google tells me that he makes about $7 million a year, and I see that he recently signed a deal with Disney. He’s not easily replaced. People who work in fast food restaurants, unfortunately, are not usually quite so special.

As I write this, I am reminded of an incident that happened in Lexington, Virginia at a restaurant called The Red Hen. The proprietor there declined to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders based on her employees’ reluctance. But, in that situation, the restaurant’s co-owner ultimately made the decision. It was her business, and therefore her right to make that call. The same is not true in the Five Guys situation. My family is actually from a community not far from Lexington; it’s the town where I got married. When I go back there, I plan to stop by The Red Hen.

In the Five Guys incident, the people who took a stand were employees of a franchise. Their decision to refuse to serve the police officers affects the chain as a whole, because it became international news. Moreover, it’s not like the owner of the restaurant said, “It’s alright with me if you protest on company time.” Those workers apparently took it upon themselves to make personal statements that affected their place of business. In the Red Hen incident, the employees had the backing of the person who had the most to lose. Also, Sarah Sanders Huckabee is a public figure– one person whose actions are definitely protest worthy. The police officers in Daphne are simply folks who do police work for a living. Maybe one or more of them have done protest worthy things, but it’s not clear from the news stories I’ve seen so far.

I do think that the United States criminal justice system must be reformed. People have every right to be angry that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have been killed by police officers. I see nothing wrong with protesting on one’s own time. The Five Guys employees had every right to protest. But doing it while on the job was just asking to be fired. Maybe they don’t care about that, but they might want to consider that it could affect their prospects of being hired by someone else. That might make it more difficult to be an effective protester in the long run.

Anyway, here in Germany, things are pretty good. There are problems here, but police officers are generally respected and respectable. And because people have been cooperating, the COVID-19 issue isn’t so bad here. Bill and I even got to enjoy a lovely lunch on Sunday… and we were told we did NOT need our masks AT ALL, even to go inside to use the rest room. That was really awesome– although as far as I know, masks are still required in shops and on public transportation.

I think Americans can take a lesson from the Germans. Mutual respect and consideration is a good thing and it leads to a better life for everyone.

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true crime

Really giving her something to cry about…

Yesterday, I decided to spend the day catching up on my reading. The weather was cold and snowy, and it was dark outside. It was the perfect weather for finishing my latest book, Rachael Denhollander’s What is a Girl Worth. I’ll probably review it later, if I don’t have any technical issues with the blog. For some reason, I’ve been having some technical difficulties this morning.

Anyway, while I was reading my book, I happened to catch one of Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook posts. She shared a news article from the Orlando Sentinel about a shocking incident that occurred in September of last year. Reporter Grace Toohey wrote about the horrifying arrest of six-year-old Kaia Rolle, who attended Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy last fall.

Kaia suffers from sleep apnea that causes her to act out. School staff members were aware of Kaia’s condition and working with her to overcome it. On the day of her arrest, Kaia had a pretty serious temper tantrum at school, possibly brought on by her sleep apnea. Kaia had punched and kicked three school employees. But she later calmed down, and was quietly listening to a story being read to her by a staff member when former police officer Dennis Turner and a colleague arrived on the scene.

When Kaia saw the big cop with zip ties in his hands, she asked “What are those for?”

Turner said, “They’re for you.” He handed them to his colleague, while Kaia figured out what was about to happen.

The other officer tightened the zip ties around Kaia’s wrists as she started crying, begging, and screaming for help. Then, former Officer Turner marched the little girl out of the school and put her in the back of his police car. She was charged with misdemeanor battery, though the charges were dropped the next day. That same day, Turner arrested a six year old boy at the same school for the same crime, although the boy’s arrest was stopped by superiors before he’d gone through the whole process. Kaia was actually taken to a juvenile center, fingerprinted, and mugshot. She was so tiny that staff had to get her to stand on a step stool so her photo could be taken.

I’ve found the body cam video for this incident several places on the Internet, but almost all of them cut off the end. The most accessible videos only show Turner putting Kaia in the back of a police SUV, probably without a booster seat. She’s clearly terrified and traumatized, but that part was somehow less shocking to me than the very end of the video, which is visible on the Orlando Sentinel’s article. Supposedly, Turner arrested Kaia because one of the school’s staff members she’d punched and kicked had wanted to press charges. School officials denied that was ever the case.

On the longer video, we can see Turner going back into the school and speaking to staffers. The school officials were clearly concerned about Kaia. They asked Turner if it was really necessary to restrain the girl with zip ties. Turner said that if Kaia had been bigger, she’d be wearing regular handcuffs. Then, as if to boast, he said he’d arrested over 6,000 people and the youngest one was about seven years old. When he was told that Kaia was six, he said with a touch of amusement that she’d “broken the record”. He wasn’t the slightest bit dismayed or concerned as he made his statement. He actually sounded kind of proud of himself. None of the staff members tried to stop the arrest, although they did seem rather non-plussed by it.

As horrified as I was by the news story, I was especially shocked as I watched the video. The child is tiny, and Turner is a very large man who had backup. No wonder Kaia was petrified. While I understand that the police have a dangerous job, especially nowadays, it really seems like overkill that such a little girl had to be restrained in that way. There’s no way she was a physical threat to anyone.

When I listen to Kaia speak, I’m surprised by how bright and articulate she is. I can’t imagine, at that age, having the presence of mind to beg a police officer for “a second chance”, or even knowing what zip ties are. I remember seeing little kids meltdown when I was that age. I probably had a few tantrums in school myself. But back in those days, there weren’t “zero tolerance” policies that required arresting small children for age appropriate temper tantrums. When I was a kid, the principal would handle the discipline. Granted, that might mean getting paddled. I don’t necessarily approve of that, either. But at least most young kids had a fighting chance of getting through grade school without a police record.

Fortunately, Dennis Turner has been dismissed from his job, even though Florida has no minimum age for arrest. Turner had violated his department’s policy, which requires officers to get approval from a supervisor before arresting anyone under age 12. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Turner retired from the Orlando Police Department last year, after 23 years on the job. He was employed by the OPD’s Reserve Unit, which is made of retired officers who do part-time work for the agency. However, despite Turner’s long tenure as an Orlando cop, his record as a police officer is troubling. Prior to retiring last year, Turner was disciplined seven times for violating department policies. The complaints ranged from unsafe driving to a child abuse charge involving his own seven-year-old son. In 2009, he was accused of sending threatening text messages to his ex wife. He’s also been accused of racial profiling. What the hell was this man doing on the police force? He should have been fired many years ago!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised and dismayed that Dennis Turner enjoyed such a long career as a police officer, particularly considering that he was working in Florida. I must admit, though, that reading this story really upset me. I don’t even recognize the United States anymore. It’s turned into a place where there is no more common sense or decency. The police are required for every intervention and it seems like the only response is to arrest people and put them behind bars. It absolutely ridiculous, particularly when an incident involves a small child like Kaia.

The Orlando Police Department is now doing serious damage control.

Kaia Rolle no longer attends Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. She now goes to a private school, because she refuses to attend a school with a police officer on campus. I’m sure Kaia is left with a lingering fear of the police, which could turn out to be tragic for her if she ever needs their help. These kids are so young, and they have their whole lives ahead of them. What has happened to our society that we have people wearing badges and carrying weapons, thinking this is an appropriate response to a small child having a temper tantrum at school? It seems like a scary number of Americans have completely lost their sense of humanity and common sense. It makes me glad I don’t have any children.

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music

Here’s to Life…

No… I have not become a pro-lifer. I just have life on the brain this morning, for a couple of reasons. First off, I learned this morning that Amy Jordan Duggar King (whichever last name she’s going by these days) just had her first baby, a son named Daxton Ryan King. It seems like nowadays, we’ve given up all the names that were incarnations of Aiden… Jayden, Braden, Hayden, Kayden, and Maiden… Now “axton” has become the popular suffix of modern names. We have Jaxton, Braxton, Saxton, and now Daxton. Well, as long he’s healthy and happy, I guess that’s all that matters. Amy had a C-section in a hospital. She looks like she’s over the moon due to the arrival of her son. Good on her! I hope the planet is good to him as he grows up.

Sigh… I love this song.

“Here’s to Life” is also the name of a beautiful song I first heard in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Composed by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary, this is a wistful song about the passage of life. The song was made popular by Shirley Horn, but the version I heard was done very movingly by the Jordan Family, a musical family from New Orleans who, at the time of the Katrina fundraiser in 2005, were still missing a couple of people due to the flooding. The above video is a beautiful live version done on the second anniversary after Katrina hit.

Artie Butler talks about how he came to write this beautiful song and Phyllis Molinary wrote the lyrics. He wrote it for his dad.

I would love to do the jazzy rendition done by the Jordan Family, but it’s not available. Since I just updated my iMac to Catalina, I wanted to see if my music library was affected, in terms of DRM. I had Barbra Streisand’s karaoke version of “Here’s to Life” that I never uploaded, so I decided to do it this morning. I don’t know that I ever listened to Barbra’s version before this morning. Barbra Streisand is one of those singers whom many people love. Personally, she’s not my favorite, even though I recognize her brilliance. I would rather watch her act than listen to her sing. I feel the same way about Bette Midler, whom I think is a wonderful comedienne. But I do like what Miss Streisand did with “Here’s to Life”. Below is her version.

This is very nice. I like the arrangement very much, although it kind of misses the gut wrenching emotion of Stephanie Jordan’s version, which I can tell really came from her heart.

I also did a version this morning. In a former life, I may have been a torch singer. The lyrics are especially meaningful to me lately. Zane, the wonder beagle, has been on my mind a lot. I really miss him. I probably miss him more than some of the people I’ve lost over the past few years. Arran, our other dog, has been adjusting to the loss… it’s almost like Zane jumped into him and imparted some manners. He’s been very snuggly and cuddly, obviously enjoying not having to share the attention with Zane. We’ve had fewer behavioral issues. It’s been nice, although it doesn’t make up for the hole in our little family. Last night, we had beautiful rainbows as the sun came out during a rainstorm. Although I know it’s just a weather phenomenon, it made me think of Zane and made me wonder if maybe he was saying “hello”… So I took a few photos.

Even if he wasn’t greeting us, the rainbows made me think of Zane, and how quickly almost ten years can fly by. He would have turned eleven next month and we would have celebrated ten years with him in December. And now he’s gone. “Here’s to Life” reminds me that life is fleeting, and it’s a good thing to savor every moment if you can. Zane was one of those creatures who was almost always happy, and he made me happy. I was not blessed with a naturally cheerful personality, so I have to work at seeing the bright side of things sometimes. I try to maintain perspective as much as possible. I think that’s something everyone should do. Unfortunately, some people aren’t able.

This morning, I was looking through memories on Facebook and was reminded of an argument I had with a conservative friend of mine. He’s a police officer and, I think, is a bit embittered by the so-called “liberal media”. I had shared a video of a black woman who was in tears because she was pulled over by a white police officer for driving too slowly. She was absolutely terrified that she would be arrested, wounded, or killed by the officer. I was responding to this woman’s palpable distress at being pulled over and not understanding why the cop had stopped her. She obviously felt her life was in jeopardy and there was nothing she could do about it.

The police officer clearly felt terrible that the woman was so upset. He really was a good officer who was legitimately concerned about her safety. He gave her a hug and begged her not to cry. But the woman was still legitimately afraid. I thought her story was heartbreaking, and said so. My cop friend tried to make himself and other police officers out to be victims of the “liberal media”, who make people like the woman in the video terrified. But it’s a fact that unarmed people of color have been killed by law enforcement. The woman’s fear is not unfounded or unreasonable, and I empathized with that reality. That was what I was responding to, even as I understand that my cop friend feels badly when people complain about police officers abusing their power.

Here are a few comments from our discussion. He claims I “misread” his intent.

Not that I want to rehash this discussion, per se… this is more a comment on perspectives. My friend John has the perspective of a police officer. I can see his perspective on a cognitive level. I also see the terrified woman’s perspective. Being pulled over is scary enough when you’re not in a group who is regularly targeted simply due to your appearance. I can see why the lady in the video was so frightened and, as a fellow human being, I related to her pain. It doesn’t mean I can’t empathize with John. I just didn’t feel like we needed to turn the narrative of this particular video into something about the poor police officers.

I know that most cops don’t abuse their power. Too many of them do, though… and people sometimes get hurt or killed. A nice lady who was driving a little bit under the speed limit should not be reduced to tears of terror simply because someone who is supposed to protect and serve pulls her over due to legitimate worries about her ability to drive safely. The cop described in the video was doing his job well, and I commend him. He is a credit to his profession, and reminds us that no situation is truly “black and white”, and almost nothing is all good or all bad. But that doesn’t mean the woman was “wrong” to be scared, nor is her legitimate fear necessarily the media’s fault.

Black and white thinking– assuming someone or something is all good or all bad– is a bad habit a lot of us get into. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people are not all good or all bad. Most of us are middle of the road. I don’t assume all police officers are horrible people based on a few media reports. However, I also don’t assume that people like the woman in the video are wrong to be scared when they get pulled over by the cops. Unfortunately, by sharing this video, I got into a minor argument that ultimately got kind of negative. But even this discussion led to something good. We had a discussion, and it’s a part of what inspires me to write today.

Zane, the wonder beagle, taught me that most everyone is inherently good on some level. He maintained a positive attitude and didn’t engage in black and white thinking. It’s easy to be bogged down by negativity and hatred when someone or something causes a negative reaction. But almost every situation has a silver lining, and that’s why it’s so good to try to maintain perspective. Even bad situations can lead to something positive and hopeful.

For instance, in 2012, when we lost our sweet “bagel” MacGregor, Arran came into our lives and brightened it. We also made several new friends in North Carolina. Zane brought good things to our lives, too. And now that he’s gone, his life still makes a difference… even if it’s just in the form of inspiration that comes from singing a song, taking a photo, or writing a blog post.

John Rasmussen, the awesome artist who made this, was inspired by Zane, too. Check out his Facebook page.

Well… this post turned into a roundabout discussion, didn’t it? I do enjoy my “music” days, even if other people don’t. I feel good when I can make music for myself and anyone who cares to share it with me. I write most days and writing often brings me satisfaction, but music brings me joy. I’d probably be a happier person if I could do more music and less writing… at the very least, I’d get into less trouble. So “here’s to life”… and here’s to you. And here’s to realizing that if you want to see rainbows, a little rain must fall.

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true crime, Uncategorized

There is NO EXCUSE for this…

This morning, I became aware of a scary situation that occurred in Phoenix, Arizona on May 29, 2019. Dravon Aames, and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, visited a Family Dollar store with their children, London, 1, and Island, 4. Without their knowledge, Island took a doll from the store. The police followed the family to their babysitter’s apartment complex, where they intended to drop off the children.

A police officer approached their vehicle, gun drawn, and opened the door. He screamed and cursed at the family. Although the police officers were not wearing the body cameras required by the police department, passersby filmed the incident and it’s now all over the Internet. And… while I do have empathy for officers of the law, who don’t know what or whom they will face on a given day, there is NO WAY their conduct here is acceptable. Take a look.

The vile language alone should get them fired.

It’s easy to hear the officers threatening to shoot the family, swearing at them, and screaming at them. And while I don’t know what prompted them to react in this extreme manner, it really looks bad for the Phoenix police department. There’s no reason to use words like “fuck” and “shit” in front of citizens, especially when there are small children around. Those kids were probably terrified, especially Island, who at age four will likely be able to remember this incident. The child is reportedly wetting the bed and having nightmares, now.

Once they had Aames cuffed and put in the back seat of a patrol car, the police zeroed in on Harper, who was holding her baby. The police officer grabbed her around the neck, then demanded that she put her baby on the hot pavement. London doesn’t yet walk, so her mother was unwilling to do as the police officer demanded. Harper eventually passed the child to a passerby; then the cop pushed her head first into the patrol car and cuffed her.

This extreme response was all over an alleged shoplifting perpetrated by a four year old child. Bystanders have claimed that Aames stole underwear and threw it out of the vehicle, refusing to stop when commanded to, and driving on a suspended license. However, the store manager declined to press shoplifting charges and, though the couple was detained, they were neither ticketed nor arrested. The car was impounded, though, and Aames, who is now limping due to being injured during this incident, has to walk to work.

Naturally, the couple has a lawyer and, frankly, I hope they sue the hell out of the city and win big. They have made a claim of $10 million. I doubt they’ll get that much, but they have every right to sue and, I hope, prevail in their lawsuit. This was a case of extreme overkill, unprofessionalism, and straight up terrorism. It looks like these officers have lost their damned minds! To their individual credits, Mayor Kate Gallego and Police Chief Jeri Williams are “disturbed” by the videos that have surfaced regarding this situation. The officers involved are now on desk duty while an investigation is conducted. Frankly, I think the cops involved in this should be fired and face some legal action. They exhibited the lowest degree of professionalism and provided an excellent example of why people now fear the police so much.

I do understand that today’s police officers, especially in the United States, have a very difficult job to do. The work is stressful, and there’s no way to know what or whom cops will face on any given shift. However, I would expect the police to be in control of themselves, first and foremost, before they attempt to take control of a situation. Yes, they need to take charge, and that means being intimidating, but there’s a difference between confidence and assertiveness and plain old aggressive thuggery. These cops are no better than criminals themselves, based on their behavior.

The police officers who wrote up this report left out a lot of key details, which were all caught on film. For instance, they failed to mention that they swept Aames’ leg, resulting in an injury.

It’s really disheartening to read and/or see videos of American police officers acting this way… or, in the case of Scot Peterson, former resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, not at all. We’ve got to do better than this. Hell, in 2015, four off-duty unarmed Swedish police officers visiting New York City were able to break up a fight without acting like psychopaths.

American cops should take a lesson.

I feel horrible for Aames and Harper and, especially, the two children who witnessed this. I hope they at least get their car back and some compensation for what they’ve endured. Unfortunately, their four year old may have permanent psychic scars because of these rogue cops.

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CPS, Police

Guns a blazin’!

A few days ago, I read the story of Arizona parents of three, Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce, whose unvaccinated two year old son had a very high fever. At about 5:00pm on February 25th, Ms. Beck took the boy to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine’s clinic. She saw a doctor who was concerned that the boy might have meningitis because his fever was over 105 degrees.

The doctor told Beck that she should take her son to a local emergency room. Ms. Beck didn’t want to take the child to the ER because she was afraid staffers there would call CPS due to the child’s lack of vaccinations. The naturopathic doctor assured Beck that CPS would not be summoned. Beck then apparently relented, and the doctor advised her to take her son to a children’s hospital. The doctor then called the hospital and asked them to let her know when the mother and child arrived.

Ms. Beck then decided not to take her boy to the ER. She said his fever broke and he appeared to feel better. They went home. Meanwhile, the doctor she’d consulted got very worried when Beck didn’t visit the ER with her child. She called the police and asked the to do a wellness check. When the police showed up to do the check, Brooks Bryce, father of the two year old and his four and six year old siblings, refused to allow the police to see the child. He declined to take the child to the hospital, supposedly worried about the potentially high bill associated with an ER visit.

At 1:30am, the police showed up at the home again with a court order. Since Beck and Bryce still refused to cooperate, they broke down the door and seized all three of the children. The parents were ordered to come outside with their hands up, as police officers swarmed their home with guns drawn. They were arrested and, to this day, their kids remain in foster care. It was later determined that the boy and his sisters had a respiratory sickness.

I shared this story with friends. One friend felt the police were justified in breaking down the front door and hauling these parents to jail. Personally, I disagree. I think the way the police handled this case could ultimately do more harm than good.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. Or, it could just mean the doctor doesn’t want to deal with addicted patients. OB-GYNs do have to pay a lot for malpractice insurance.

As I was explaining why I feel this way, I was reminded of a post I wrote on my old blog about pregnant women being warned about their drug use at the doctor’s office. A doctor had posted a note in his office about how any pregnant woman who tested positive for drugs would be reported to the authorities. My immediate thought was that the doctor wasn’t actually interested in helping all pregnant women. He or she was probably more concerned about liability. A Facebook friend had posted a photo of the note, commending the doctor on his stance. But I got the feeling that she hadn’t considered what that attitude would actually mean for the developing fetus in the drug addicted mom. Pregnant women who abuse drugs still need medical care, probably even more than other pregnant women who don’t have addictions. Posting a sign that guarantees that the addicted mom will get in trouble with the law is pretty much a guarantee that she won’t seek medical help when she needs it.

In this case, Sarah Beck was afraid to visit the emergency room with her son. Why? Because she was under the impression that someone would call CPS on her for not having him vaccinated. Yes, the doctor did inform Beck that her child would not be seized, since Arizona allows parents to opt their children out of vaccinations for personal, religious, and medical reasons. But, for some reason, she was still afraid that her parental rights would be stripped from her. Ultimately, that is exactly what happened, even if it was because the parents refused to cooperate with the authorities. This case ended up being referenced on anti-vax sites contending that Arizona child protective services “sells” children into foster care. So what does that do? Now, more people are going to be convinced that seeking medical or police help will lead to arrest.

I certainly don’t condone the way Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce behaved. I think they should have been much more cooperative. I have read about what the police found when they raided their home, and I’ve seen the video in which the police kicked in the front door. Yes, there was evidence that the children weren’t getting the best care. Vomit was found on the children’s beds and there was a lot of clutter. Particularly concerning was the fact that police found a shotgun in the parents’ nightstand, which reportedly wasn’t functional. For that reason, I can see why the police officers placed the father in handcuffs.

I also think that certain vaccines should be mandatory, unless a person can’t take them for medical reasons. While I’m generally whole-heartedly in favor of a person having complete rights to his or her bodily autonomy, this is a public health issue. People still die of communicable diseases like measles, and for some people who can’t be vaccinated, it’s a true matter of life and death that healthy people are immune and can’t spread the disease. I do think that not vaccinating children, especially for formerly rare illnesses like measles, mumps, and rubella, is stupid.

However, I think the heavy handed SWAT team approach to forcing people to accept “help” will ultimately do more harm than good. The fact is, the police as a whole in the United States have gotten a very bad reputation for acting like thugs. Quite a few people have been killed or injured in their dealings with police officers. This case, in which the mom did care enough about her child to seek medical help for him, only to lose custody of him and her other children after a police standoff, does not improve that tarnished image. Moreover, it did turn out the children weren’t that sick, and their father had a justifiable concern about how much an emergency room visit would cost. Medical care in the United States is extremely expensive, particularly for the many people who still lack adequate health insurance.

People should be able to count on medical people and police for help when they need it. I think most police officers and medical professionals care about the people they serve, but I can also see why some people justifiably fear them. It seems like in the United States these days, it’s all too easy to end up on the wrong side of the law. We incarcerate more people in our prisons, many of which are privately owned and operate for profit, than any other nation. Ultimately, I think the better goal is to try to keep families together and strive to support them, rather than threaten them.

While I grant that these parents weren’t cooperating with the authorities and something needed to be done, I also think that the children in this story will forever be left with the image of their parents being arrested and being sent to foster care in separate homes. That will probably cause lasting damage. What is also worrying is the perception among other people that if they seek help, they might eventually be arrested in a very dramatic way. It doesn’t help that in the United States today, people are very quick to call CPS for any reason at all. People have lost custody of their children simply for letting them walk to school by themselves or play alone in their front yards.

I did read that this couple had been in touch with CPS more than once. I do think that they should be investigated. I don’t agree with the super dramatic police response, though, especially since it’s now all over the media. Just my opinion. I feel like there should be more room for parents to exercise their judgment when it comes to taking care of their children, even if I can also see why the authorities were legitimately concerned in this case. The good news is, it looks like the children are back to normal health, even if they aren’t in their parents’ care.

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