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Between a rock and hard spot

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by RLB, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. RLB

    RLB

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    Looking for some input and advice.
    We have a friend that is a single mom that for the last year and a half has been having issues with letting situations go. This has gotten to the point she has taken prescription meds that were not hers and was arrested for DUI as a result. She has issues with her son's dad and the school her son attends. The son is 8 years old and the parents were never married.
    For over a year now the underlying theme has been I want to die. Her anger towards those around her has grown to a point where all she does is scream. We no longer live in the area and deal with this via phone. Social services has been called by the school because her son has taken a down ward turn and told the teacher all his mom does is cry.
    I know she has started drinking heavily on a daily basis. She was forced by the judge and her employer, which is the county, to have an evaluation performed. Social services came into the home and evaluated things. The son told the case worker everything was fine.
    Last night I heard about half the conversation where the theme was "I want to die". In the house lives her 22 year old daughter so I contacted her to learn more. The situation is worse than what I thought. I know the friend is a drama queen, but part of me feels she is very near the edge.
    We are at the point we fear for the 8 year old. His father has only recently started acting like a father. This has added to the problem with the mom's outburst etc.
    We are concerned that if we contact the police the mom could be arrested, which means the son could end up temporarily in foster care, b) she will more than likely lose her job and c) that means she loses her house.
    My questions from all this rambling are: 1) Is there any way I can involve law enforcement and her not be arrested? 2) If law enforcement is involved will the son be placed in foster care until it is resolved or can the half sister continue to care for him or will he be placed with his father? For this last question please remove the badge and think other than as a Law Enforcement Officer. 3) Knowing the situation placed in front of you, what would you do?
    The location is Wisconsin if that matters.

    I have tried the hard line approach of "if you are going to attempt suicide, make sure you get it right the first time." I watched, figuratively, my niece attempt it several times until she got it right. That screwed my nephew up beyond belief.
    We have tried talking very frankly with our friend and it is not getting through. My wife and I are not sure what to do.
    Any suggestions and points of view are greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for letting an non LEO post here.
     
  2. trifecta

    trifecta

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    Why do you feel she will be arrested? Just the desire to harm herself? That would get her taken into custody, but shouldn't be a criminal offense. They just take her into custody and place her somewhere safe for a medical evaluation.

    If you think the child is in danger, there is no question which action to take. Whether the child is in physical danger or not, the environment itself is toxic and it sounds like it is already causing problems. If you think the child has taken a downward turn at 8, just wait a few years.

    No matter what happens, the child is going to be impacted. If you can somehow get her help, she and the child may be able to form a more normal future. If that means calling the police, so be it. If she will state a desire to harm herself to them, they will take her someplace safe. What happens to the child in the short term after that will depend on Wisconsin policy and law. It is possible a competent adult relative could take care of the child.

    If nobody does anything, she may decide to kill the kid and herself. She may decide to let the kid find her hanging from the stairs one day when he comes home from school. She may just stay alive in her current state and ruin the kids childhood. Find a way to get her some help.
     

  3. Napalm561

    Napalm561

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    First of all, I think you should contact the police. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Officers will basically interview her and determine if she is seriously considering hurting herself or others. If this is the case, the Officer should allow her to contact friends or family members to allow for someone to care for the child. I don't know what programs there are for someone in this situation in Wisconsin, but I live in Oklahoma, and in this situation where we can articulate that we believe someone wants to do harm to themselves, we EOD them, or Emergency Order of Detention. We take them to a mentla health institution, and they will be admitted for a 72 hour period, and if it is determined the person needs additional treatment, a judge will order treatment for the individual. I don't know the person you're speaking of, obviously, but if she has increased her self destructive behavior, such as drinking, and pill popping, I think some help is in order. No 8 year old should grow up without his mother, and should not be shown that dealing with life's minor problems in this manor is EVER acceptable. Hopefully, she can get the help she needs, even if it is ordered by a judge. Unfortunatley, the system is the greatest in Oklahoma, and fails in many aspects, but it at least allows an individual to sit back and take a clear look at the options that are available if someone is at the breaking point.
    Good luck in finding help for your friend, and hopefully things will turn out for the best.
     
  4. oliussw

    oliussw

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    Another Oklahoma cop here so I can't speak for all other states.

    I'll preface this by saying that if you fear for the child, as you have stated, get off your duff and do something about it instead of worrying about jobs and house payments. There is nothing more important than the physical and mental well-being of a child.

    Here a person can be detained for a mental evaluation if they are an immediate threat to themselves or another person. If you call the police, they go to the home, and this woman and her children don't tell the truth then nothing will get done. The police have to have first hand knowledge of the threat or a statement from someone who is a witness to it.

    Another option is a court ordered detention for mental evaluation. Here, you have to apply for this to a district court and it has to be signed by a judge. This appears to be a better option for you. Arrangements can be made by officers beforehand for the child and a plan of action can be made. If available in your state, you would probably have to appear in person and sign a statement to present to the judge.

    Good luck with whatever you decide but, for the sake of that child, do something.
     
  5. Bruce M

    Bruce M

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    If nothing else calling will provide some level of solace if or when something really bad happens. That having been said, my limited experience leads me to believe that government social service intervention works at least as well as, say, government poverty eradication programs. If she has health insurance and the health insurance plan has mental illness coverage, that might be a better avenue for treatment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  6. JBaird22

    JBaird22

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    I don't know about Wisconsin but here, we would have already had enough to take her in if she is spiraling down that much. A child being placed in foster care, and having worked in two states I saw this in both instances, if there is no family willing to step up and watch the kiddo.

    As others have said, if the situation is causing you to fear for the safety of the child (as is somewhat apparent by you posting a question about it on the internet) then you need to do something. That whole "takes a village" thing kicks in when the safety of children is involved.

    As far as taking off the badge, no matter how hard I try I can't not think like a cop. But if I were in a situation that warranted me acting in my personal life, I'd make the call, or at least help someone else to make the call.

    Oh and BTW, its not a criminal offense to be depressed. She may be "arrested" but it isn't a charge, its for protective custody and its just to secure her so they can get her to a place of safety.
     
  7. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

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    Police intervention if it becomes necessary.

    Otherwise, does she have an EAP with counseling services to help her out? If so, they will get with her on a plan to begin helping her and the kid out, and work with her insurance concerning her mental health coverage; therewith helping her to keep her life and the kid's life intact. Best of luck in helping her with this.

    If she doesn't have an EAP, see if the state or county of residence has a state mental health aid society/organization that can be helpful.

    By the way, as much as it is the least desirable, better for the kid to be in foster care than to be dead or worse.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  8. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

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    Sounds to me like the perfect setup for a murder/suicide.

    In my state, we can do what is called an "EDO" or 72 hour detention via a judge. If the person makes claims that they wish to harm themselves, and/or take a substantial step towards harming themselves, then we transport them to the ER and get a judge to sign the papers. Then they are carted off to a laughing academy for a minimum of three days.

    As far as her being "arrested" she can't be criminally charged with anything for just being a big wad of crazy. If she neglects the boy severely she could be charged with criminal neglect but if DFC has been to the house and not removed him, then obviously they didn't see a reason to (I'm referring to the cleanliness of the residence, food availability, power, water, etc).

    If/when mom goes to the rubber ramada, the boy will probably be placed with the father, if he's fit, or the half-sister. DFC almost always prefers to keep placements within the family.

    It's for the children.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  9. glock192327

    glock192327 Where is eye

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  10. RLB

    RLB

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    Thanks for the input. I did contact the local law enforcement office today and spoke with an awesome officer who in fact was very aware of the person and her situation with the recent OUI arrest.
    Because the friend is a county employee he agreed to contact social services and brief them of the situation and get more information for me. I did contact social services myself and spoke in depth with a supervisor. She enlightened me to a lot of things. She did tell me that even if an assessment is performed and mother and child put on the "happy" face there is little they can do if they cannot prove neglect/abuse. Unfortunately, mental/emotional abuse is the most difficult to prove. No outward signs like with physical abuse.
    I do know that an assessment was recently performed. The house is always clean, he has food when he wants to eat, he always has clean clothing. Outwardly there is not signs of problems that were seen. The son told the case worker that everything was fine. Since they could not find otherwise they left things as they were.

    Not knowing the boy's father all I have to go on with regards to him is hear say which I take with a box of Morton salt.
    My concern with regards to the job and mortgage stems from them being homeless if she loses her employment. To make a phone call that starts a ball rolling that has such potential impact is not something to be taken lightly. Neither is leaving a child in such a destructive environment.
    Thanks again for the words of advice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  11. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

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    Well, with DFC's involvement (albeit on the perimeter of things) its very unlikely that they will get tossed out on their ear if they lose the house. Even if she did lose her job (which sounds inevitable anyway) DFC isn't going to allow them to live on the streets. There are programs available to women in these types of situations.
     
  12. RLB

    RLB

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    I hope the previous assessment will be reviewed and possibly the 22 year interviewed. My wife has worked with the group that handles these cases and she feels the situation will be monitored closely and possibly re-opened.
    Thanks again for everyone's input.