Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Adventures In Ambiguity

Sometimes, you read the news and it's all as obvious as a soap commercial.

Other times, it's like peeling an onion--

Grandmother leaves child in locked car while shopping, the headline read. OMG! Lock 'er up! Next paragraphs reveal the car was locked, running, and the air conditioning was on; the child was napping. Oh! So, no harm, no foul, then? Doesn't look that way: she's been arrested, the child handed over to Child Protective Services and the car was hauled off to impound. There's probably more to this story, but I can't find it.

So, a fluke, right?

I dunno. Next up, a teenager gets shot by an adult in some kind of neighborhood dispute, dies in hospital. Police briefly have the shooter in custody, believe him to have acted in self-defense, and let him go...and then it turns out that not only was he a felon in possession of firearms -- unlawful possession -- but his most recent stint behind bars was because he was carrying a gun despite being legally barred from so doing. So how'd IMPD miss that, in this Age of Information with a networked computer in every car? Oh, and the precipitating incident is looking less and less clear-cut; police statements imply the victim may have a criminal history, too. Meanwhile, the shooter has gone on the lam.

The adult shooter is white, the teenaged victim, black. The Ten Point Coalition, a group of urban ministers, was working the neighborhood yesterday, hoping to defuse tensions. If you were looking for a simple, clear-cut narrative cast in the gothic mode, this ain't it.

Easy answers? There aren't any.


karrde said...

I usually figure that authorities have some reason for separating child from parent.

But then again, I remember back when home-schooling was a new thing, and the truant officer would team up with Child Protective Services to keep the children safe from their own parents.

Made for interesting pictures in the local newspaper, that did.

Some government agents like doing their job well, others do it because they like the authority.

Dirk said...

I've left a sleeping child in a locked car, with the engine running and the AC going, on more than one occasion. Of course, I didn't make a long expedition of it - was just a quick run into the grocery store for something vital. I really don't see a thing wrong with it.

Panamared said...

In this part of the country, leaving
the keys in the car would be considered an attractive nuisance. That alone will get you a ticket, but leaving a child in the car, is reckless endangerment, and that will get you jail time. Of course here in Florida the inside of a closed car is a deadly environment most of the year.

AngelaG said...

Kaarde: Yes, and often that reason is "Because we can." Blind trust is the reason CPS in states like South Dakota, Kentucky, and Washington (among others) can kidnap children from their homes. I see you're from Michigan. Here are a few stories about CPS/DHS in your area: http://www.nccprblog.org/search?q=corrigan&max-results=20&by-date=true (sorry for the long link, on my iPad).

My favorite of those stories is how officers were literally rubber stamping judges' signatures on orders to remove children from their families.

Bubblehead Les. said...

RE the Shooting: WTF? Just how drunk was those IMPD Cops when they arrived on the Scene? "Let's see, drink a shot, turn on Computer in Car, drink a shot, hey Charlie, how do you turn this thing on? I dunno, just pass me the Bottle. We'll write it up Tomorrow. Now sir, hey, where'd he go? Ah, the heck with it. Let's just hit the Liquor Store. It's almost Lunch time, and we're running low."

Dirk said...

One thing I left out - the sleeping child was strapped into a car seat. I certainly wouldn't leave a mobile 10-year old in a running car, even if s/he was asleep when I did so....they have this tendency to wake up at the most inconvenient times.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought the 'sleeping child' would turn out to be a baby, or toddler, but 10! Aren't children of 10 allowed to walk/ride to school on their own there? Go shopping?

Social Services/Police here are bad! but not quite that bad (Yet). I truly hope that there's some other, unstated, reason for the arrest, as you say. Unfortunately I suspect Angela G is right and it's done because they can (power), whilst As Dirk intimated, my parents wouldn't dare as I 'may have taken the car for a spin, pick up some chicks, go for a drink' (Hey, I was 'advanced' for my age and you try having a social life on a Raleigh 'Chopper'!!!).

If your police are anything like ours the procedure is to arrive on scene, decide on impulse who the bad guy is, arrest him, then only gather such evidence as supports the conclusion they jumped to (I kid you not, this is accepted policy and procedure. Only evidence which supports the arrest is gathered, anything else is for 'the defence' to gather?!? Robert Peel is spinning in his Grave).

kishnevi said...

I can imagine enough things going wrong with a kid in a locked, engine running car--and most 10 y.o. would probably have an easy time getting out of that car seat....I would not be upset with the Nanny State for being a nanny over this. (And I'm leaving out the possibilities inherent in a car thief making off with the car without realizing there's a sleeping kid in the back seat. Which has actually happened more than once.)

Ambulance Driver said...

I was cited for criminal child endangerment for leaving KatyBeth in a locked, running car with air-conditioning on, 20 feet from the front door of a busy Wal Mart for 23 minutes.

I actually had to enter a court diversion program and pay $200 in addition to regular court expenses to have it stay off my record.

The officer who cited me was highly indignant that I'd do such a thing, stating "What if some pervert convinced her to open the car door, and abducted her?"

I asked him, "Did you try to get her to open the door?" and he told me yes.

I replied, "Well obviously, she knows a pervert when she sees one."

In retrospect, that probably didn't do much to convince him to let me off with a warning.

Roberta X said...

Y'think? ...Still, almost worth it.

Jerry said...

Still, not worth it. A vehicle has an engine, it will get hot at idle. I don't care what the NYPD, or the car company might say. If a vehicle isn't moving, it's engine will suffer. It's all about airflow. Crown Vic, M-16, anything. Heat will cause metal to fatigue. If you leave something in a motorized vehicle, and rely on it's AC, your gambling.