Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Time CPS Put Under State Law Enforcement Control

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CPS is a failed Federal Agency and does not meet the needs of Families or Children

Officials admit Child Abuse blunders

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA  –  County authorities are admitting to interagency communication breakdowns and negligent reporting in combating rampant child abuse, but say improvements are in the works.

Officials made the admissions late last week in response to two scathing civil grand jury reports about multi-agency failures by schools, law enforcement and county Child Welfare Services to report and combat child abuse effectively.

The grand jury probe concluded that Humboldt’s social services system is so structured that at times it appears “dysfunctional.”

The panel issued a two-pronged warning in the wake of an eight-month investigation:

  • “The safety net for our children critically needs improvement.”
  • “The children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them!”

The Union reported in December that the county’s child abuse and neglect rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the California average, according to Mary Ann Hansen, executive director of First 5 Humboldt, the family support and child abuse prevention agency (Union, Dec. 10, 2016).

The weekend edition of the Times-Standard quoted Sheriff William Honsal acknowledging that communications between his office and Child Welfare Services have “absolutely failed over the last couple of years” to react quickly enough to reports of child abuse and neglect. He faulted Child Welfare case workers for lax communications but said the two agencies are at work on shoring them up, the newspaper quoted him stating.

The grand jury report voiced strong skepticism that the promised improvements will materialize.

Times-Standard reporter Will Houston also quoted Chris Hartley, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, that school district officials have been meeting monthly for several years with counterparts from the Department of Health and Human Services and that the dual grand jury reports will, belatedly, kick off discussions about coordinating child abuse reporting.

In stinging rebukes, two 2016-2017 civil grand jury reports, “Responding in Time to Help our ‘At Risk’ Children” and “Child Welfare in Humboldt: Getting the Door Open,” fault major problems in how schools, law enforcement and county agencies work to protect highly vulnerable youngsters.

“Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results,” warns the exposé on slow response times. Among the findings:

  • School districts struggle with their responsibility as Mandated Reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect.  They often describe their contacts with law enforcement and child welfare as “frustrating” and “problematic.”
  • Of the five school districts investigated, comprising numerous schools, all representatives “expressed high levels of frustration with Child Welfare Services in the initial filing and subsequent handling of Mandated Reports.”

The Arcata School District gave high marks to the cooperation of the Arcata Police Department in child abuse investigations, but other districts registered multiple complaints about sheriff’s stations in their locales.  Frequently, deputies “do not answer our calls,” “tell us they do not have sufficient personal to investigate” or they investigate “but do not leave a report” of the investigation.

School employees were “vociferous in their complaints” about Child Welfare Services.  The grand jury spelled out the critical remarks:

  • “They often do not return our calls.”
  • “The Child Welfare hotline is “totally worthless.”
  • “We don’t go that far South.”
  • “That is not within our jurisdiction.”
  • “You should call the sheriff’s office about this.”

School personnel told the grand jury that often they never receive a reply from Child Welfare about a filed Mandated Report.  The most common replies, if any, are “does not meet the state requirements for intervention” or secondly, “referred to other services.”

The latter means Child Welfare made an initial inquiry and then referred a family to voluntary social services or another community agency – but did not follow-up on whether the family followed through.

Turning to law enforcement, virtually all the of officers interviewed stated that drugs and alcohol were involved in the majority of the Mandated Report cases they investigated.

Like the school districts, law enforcement cited numerous problems in dealing with Child Welfare.  In multiple instances, the difficulty is a severe lack of timely interagency communication.

Two examples, according to law officers (CWS refers to Child Welfare Services):

  • CWS tends to send a week’s supply of requests late Friday afternoon, making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to begin investigations until the following Monday.
  • In cases involving possible physical or sexual abuse, law enforcement must be contacted within hours, but the sheriff’s office is sometimes called days or weeks after CWS receives an initial report.

The child abuse report voiced doubts, based on past experience, that law enforcement and Child Welfare will improve their mutual openness and communication.

“While the Grand Jury supports apparent current efforts to create a task force to improve transparency and communication, the history of such past efforts gives us reason to be skeptical at this time.”

All of the social workers interviewed “appeared to be seriously dedicated to the work they were doing” with at-risk children, but said the Department of Health and Human Services has overwhelming caseloads, high turnover and lack of experience in dealing with the caseload.

Child Welfare staff dismissed school district complaints, alleging that many Mandated Reporters do not know how to fill out their reports properly or understand the criteria to be followed.

However, the grand jury found that “of the approximately 250 redacted Mandated Reports that we read, not one was filled out inappropriately or inaccurately.”

IL CPS Close Cases Without Police Or Doctor Contact

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George Sheldon, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

DCFS under fire for quickly closing
Child Abuse investigations

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigators are overwhelmed by high caseloads and are being pressured to quickly close their abuse probes, even when they have not performed basic tasks like contacting police and doctors, according to several experts and lawmakers who spoke Tuesday at a joint House-Senate hearing in Springfield.

Front and center at the 90-minute hearing was state child welfare director George Sheldon, who faced intense criticism about the recent deaths of youth who had been the subject of DCFS investigations as well as the agency’s failure to protect vulnerable children and their families.

The hearing was prompted by a May 11 Tribune report on three Cook County cases in which children died of beatings or starvation shortly after DCFS closed investigations into mistreatment in their homes, as well as the case of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby, who was found dead last month in her Joliet Township home after the agency closed four neglect probes, and was in the midst of two more.

At the hearing Tuesday, the agency revealed it had conducted several additional probes involving other youth in the same house.

State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said she also was troubled by the Tribune’s account of a new DCFS program called Blue Star that offers overtime pay to Cook County investigators who significantly boost the percentage of cases they close within 14 days.

“Enough is enough,” Flowers said.  “Our families are suffering.”

Sheldon defended the agency but acknowledged that investigations sometimes failed and children were harmed because his workers often were not communicating properly with each other or with outside agencies and private contractors.

“We’ve got to do a better job of coordination,” Sheldon said at the hearing.

Sheldon’s testimony came as he continues to weigh whether or not to leave the agency.  Last week a Florida nonprofit offered him its top job with a $210,000 annual compensation, but Sheldon said he needs until the end of this month to make up his mind.

In addition to headlines about child deaths, he is facing state ethics probes into DCFS contracts that benefited his friends and political associates in Florida, the Tribune has revealed.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Sheldon said that the Tribune reports prompted him to ask the agency’s general counsel to review whether Illinois laws should be changed to enable DCFS to retain records of past unproven allegations.  The agency currently must expunge and shred most investigators’ files if it determines there is no credible evidence of abuse or neglect.  That handicaps investigators because patterns of mistreatment may only emerge by analyzing the information in those “unfounded” cases, Sheldon said.

“How can our workers have a full view of what is going on in a family?”  he asked, noting that Florida and most other states keep records in unfounded cases.

Heidi Dalenberg,general counsel for the ACLU of Illinois and cooperating counsel in a three-decade-old consent decree governing DCFS, expressed frustration that Sheldon was proposing new laws and a smorgasbord of improved technologies and programs.  She said the agency is simply failing to conduct thorough investigations and ensure children are safe.

“It is this kind of flailing about that is not helpful,” Dalenberg said at the hearing.  The agency’s entrenched problems cannot be repaired “by leaping to the first easy solution.”

‘Overwhelmed’ by cases

Danielle Gomez, a supervising attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, which represents state wards in juvenile court, detailed a litany of recent investigations she said were botched when DCFS did not interview key witnesses or gather critical evidence.  In one case the agency investigator interviewed youth in front of the alleged perpetrator, she said.

“We are seeing this a lot … I could go on and on,” Gomez said.

DCFS investigators told her staff that they were “overwhelmed” by high caseloads, Gomez added, saying:  “They are sometimes in tears about the things they are unable to do, about the pressures on their caseloads.”

Stephen Mittons, a 22-year child protection investigator who heads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2081 union representing those workers, underscored that point with caseload statistics from March.  Eleven of the 15 investigators in Rockford had caseloads well over the limit of 12 cases per investigator mandated by the federal court consent decree, Mittons told legislators.

“It’s the same all over the state,” he added.  “We are short-staffed and carrying high caseloads. … I am sitting on 25 investigations and just received my 18th investigation for this month.”

One of the lawmakers questioning Sheldon, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, separately introduced a house resolution asking the state auditor general to assess the agency’s protocols for investigating reports of abuse and neglect.  That proposed audit would review DCFS investigations within the past five years.

“We have to find out why DCFS closes so many cases so fast.  They are closing cases too soon,” Ford told the Tribune outside the hearing.  The death of Semaj Crosby “tipped the scales.  DCFS seems to be a pool of trouble,” Ford said.

Despite high-profile child deaths and repeated warnings about high caseloads, DCFS was failing to improve, said the agency’s Inspector General Denise Kane.  “There are organizational flaws.”

Crosby investigation

In a Joliet courtroom Tuesday, a DCFS attorney said the agency will give some cases in Will County a second look in the wake of Semaj’s death.

The agency plans to review a random portion of the 110 cases where children remain under their parents’ care but still require services, said Susan Barker, an attorney representing the agency. DCFS typically contracts with outside agencies to provide those services.  In Will County, the agency works with Aunt Martha’s and Children’s Home + Aid.

Barker told Will County Judge Paula Gomora that the agency plans to do a quality assurance review of 10 to 30 percent of the cases each of those outside agencies handles for DCFS.

Sheldon said at the Springfield hearing Tuesday that he had received his agency’s internal Quality Assurance Review and recommendations about Semaj’s case, and will release it shortly, after consultations with the Will County State’s Attorney.

“The more information that is out there, the more we can learn from these kinds of situations and the more we can make changes,” Sheldon added.

While declining to provide details of that internal report, Sheldon noted that DCFS had opened abuse and neglect investigations that referenced five children at Semaj’s home — three youth, including Semaj, belonging to Sheri Gordon, and two others belonging to a relative who lived there.

The residents at the home were being contacted by at least four units of government, state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said at the hearing, including DCFS and an agency contractor, Will County probation services and the region’s special education cooperative.

But DCFS had no process to amass and compile reports from those various government agencies, and was not communicating with them.

DCFS had a total of 11 abuse or neglect investigations into that household, DCFS Senior Deputy Director for Operations Michael Ruppe said at the hearing, including probes into an aunt of Semaj’s and another adult resident.  Those investigations were handled by at least four different DCFS workers, Ruppe added.

Sheldon said: “When you’re not connecting these cases and you have five persons going out … each person doesn’t necessarily know what the other person did.”

Sheldon said he was working on a technology overhaul that would improve communication between workers, but he and Ruppe declined at the hearing to say when those upgrades might be implemented.

Flowers said that Tuesday’s hearing was just the first of several she plans through the summer “or maybe longer.”

As the hearing closed, she addressed her final comments directly to Sheldon.

“This one is on you — whether you leave or whether you stay, this agency is supposed to work,” Flowers said.   “This needs to be fixed, and the hurt and the pain and the suffering families are going through needs to stop.”

My Heroes Have Always Been Real

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“Courageous. Steadfast. Protectors.”

Armed Forces Day 2017
is a Day of Celebration

May 20 is Armed Forces Day, a time to honor all who serve in America’s Military Branches.

Hero – a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character, special strength, courage, and ability, an immortal being.

YOU ARE MY HEROES, but with so many empty places at the dinner table in Our Great Country, Our America The Beautiful, The Home Of The Free And The Brave, I can’t help but pause and Give Thanks for all the selfless people that answered the Call of Duty, and put themselves in Harms Way, MY HEROES, and I will never forget.

Blue Angels, Thunderbirds meet for rare joint training

“Armed Forces Day…and the Memorial Day weekend that follows, is a time to honor, remember and recognize those who serve and have served our country, as well as those who have died in service.  As we reflect, let’s not forget the many sacrifices made at home as well in support of our men and women in uniform.”
– Chuck Norris –

Armed Forces Day is celebrated each year on the third Saturday in May.  It traces its roots to Aug. 31, 1949, when Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace separate holidays for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.  The day was first celebrated on May 20, 1950.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation honoring members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard yesterday.

“On Armed Forces Day, we salute the bravery of those who defend our Nation’s peace and security,” the president said.  “Their service defends for Americans the freedom that all people deserve.”

The theme for this year’s Armed Forces Day is “Courageous. Steadfast. Protectors.”

MISSING CHILD IN HOUSTON TX

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MISSING!!!! Anibe Alexandra Odoma, is 5-years-old, lives in Houston, Texas

ATTENTION!!!!
PLEASE HELP THIS DEAR FAMILY

HOUSTON, TX  –  KIDNAPPED LAST NIGHT, May 05, 2017, by unknown persons.

CALLING ALL GOOD PEOPLE:  Veterans, Active Service Members, Fathers, Brothers, Explorers, Boy Scouts, Hunters, Fishermen, Scuba Divers.  Let’s WORK TOGETHER with Our Law Enforcement and reunite this Dear Family.

This young Ladies name is Anibe Alexandra Odoma, and she is 5-years-old.

Anibe Alexandra Odoma lives in Houston, Texas

Please SHARE/FORWARD this to every Friend Possible.

Anibe Alexandra Odoma was kidnapped from her home and Family in Houston, Texas, last night, May 05, 2017.

Someone rang the doorbell and Anibe answered the door and was TAKEN.

PLEASE, LETS HELP BRING THIS CHILD HOME TO HER FAMILY

Abuse Victims Making Big Difference

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Keely, Kiera, Kristin and Nieve Parry hold the Anne Freimuth Child Advocate of the Year award.

Utah Child Abuse victims-turned-advocates
recognized

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  –  The winners — who are abuse survivors — stress forgiveness, staying positive and drawing strength from others.

As 8-year-old Keely Parry sat in her third-grade classroom listening to a presentation about sexual abuse seven years ago, she had a realization.

Her father had been abusing her and her older sister Kiera.

Their father was eventually convicted of the abuse, and the girls became advocates for other victims.

On Wednesday, Keely, Kiera and their sister Nieve Parry were recognized, along with fellow abuse survivors Grant Rutherford and Alex Smith, for advocating at a young age and working to prevent further abuse.

Prevent Child Abuse Utah (PCAU), an agency that works to educate the public and stop child abuse, presented the awards at a breakfast ceremony in Salt Lake City.  According to a PCAU news release, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. is abused before turning 18.  The reported rate of child sexual abuse in Utah is 27 percent, which is three times the national average of 9 percent.

Rutherford was sexually abused at age 8 by a girl a few years older than he was, he told the crowd at the banquet.  This year, he centered his high school senior thesis around speaking out about sexual abuse.

Smith experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse in his first 13 years of life — living in a Russian orphanage until age 5 that left him with scars from cigarette burns and knife wounds, then being adopted by two sets of abusive parents in the U.S. before he was adopted the third and final time by 4th District Juvenile Court Judge Rick Smith and his family.

During the next few years, Smith began to heal from his abuse and became more vocal about abuse in the foster care system.

In their comments, winners noted the importance of forgiveness, staying positive through hard times and gaining strength from the people around them.

PCAU is the organization that gave the presentation in Keely Parry’s elementary school and helped her identify the abuse she had experienced.

“It’s been a really long, hard journey,” an emotional Keely Parry said, “and if it weren’t for [PCAU] and my family, I don’t know what I would do.”

Though now-17-year-old Kiera Parry said she still experiences strong emotions stemming from her abuse, the love she feels from her support system helps her move forward.

Rutherford echoed those sentiments and encouraged audience members — including his graduating senior class — to take action.

“You have a chance to move on, to not only change your life but those around you, including others who may have been abused and don’t know what to do,” Rutherford said.  “It’s up to you to speak up and change your environment, and I have a firm knowledge that things do get better once you do.”

The stories from child abuse survivors are inspiring, said PCAU board Chairman Tony Divino, but the agency’s ultimate goal is to “prevent these stories.”  To do that, it offers free half-hour online courses to educate people on how to prevent abuse.

It’s a cause, he said, that will have a lasting impact.