While professional law enforcement officers and educators tell parents and students that it’s ok to “snitch” to them on others, these professionals are not snitching to parents about their kids. Usually, parents are left in the dark about what occurs with their kids outside of the home. It’s not until after these so-called professional have gotten all of the information that they want from our kids or until our kids are placed under arrest, is when we (the parent) may get a courtesy call from a school staff member or a law enforcement officer, vaguely informing us of our kids situation.
In October 2008, the Tallahassee Police department started investigating a felony case. The crime occurred at the home of an ex-law enforcement officer. At that time, my son was 15-years-old. He was a third party guest to the home. He and eight other Caucasian boys (including the homeowner’s 19-year-old son) were all being investigated for this crime. The investigation lasted well over a month. In the end, my son and the others were charged and arrested.
My son was arrested at school and taken to the Tallahassee Police station. I learned of his arrest through a phone call to my cell phone from a Tallahassee Police investigator and then a voice mail message left on my cell phone from a school staff member. Neither one of them stated why he had been arrested. It wasn’t until I got to the Tallahassee Police department when I learned that my son had been under investigation for over a month. When I later read the Probable Cause Affidavit, I was in shock to learn that not only had he been under investigation for over a month, but also, the Tallahassee Police investigators had been out to his school not once but twice to “interview” him. And the second time that they interviewed him, they recorded it.
By the way, did I mention that my son was attending a day school for juvenile delinquents and was on probation at the time of his arrest? I guess I was naïve to think that the probation officer and the schools “Youth Goals For Treatment Team” (Legal, Mental, Behavioral, Attitude, Miscellaneous and Educational), along with 3 of my contact phone numbers (home, work, and cell) and my physical and email addresses were all supposed to be utilized at some point, before he re-offended with a classmate. I still don’t understand how these so-called professionals expect kids to reach goals in school, when they themselves lack to reach parents when they see or sense a potential problem arising.
This issue is not only in schools for juvenile delinquents. As I read the Discovery Report in regards to the double murder charges that the Leon County Sheriff’s office has brought against my 17-year-old son, one of the emotions that stir up inside of me is disgust. I’m already disgusted by the murder charges overall, but when I read witness statements of juveniles—while at school, without their parents… Five juveniles gave statements to the detectives. Two of the juveniles were in middle school (interviewed after the murder charges) and the other three were in high school (interviewed before the murder charges). In two of the reports (2 brothers—both in high school), there is some mention of a parent giving the o.k. over the phone for the detective to interview their sons. As for the other three witnesses (all at different schools), there is no mention of contacting a parent or a parent being present. A witness statement from a female high school student (also a co-worker of my son’s and his 21-year-old roommate), was discredited by the detective. In reading her statement, there’s no telling how rude and harsh the detective was with her. In the reading of another witness statement, that of a 13-year-old juvenile male, who said that he was the best friend of the deceased 17-year-old male victim, I could strongly feel his pain from losing his best friend. This kid was interviewed a few days after his best friend’s funeral. He even showed the detective a tattoo on his arm that he’d gotten in memory of his best friend. The report does not mention anything about a parent, a counselor, a school staff member, or anybody being on hand to comfort this kid. His statement, along with the others, does not underscore the Leon County Sheriff detectives’ label as to my son being a murderer. One of the male juvenile witnesses led the detectives to a female juvenile witness, who supposedly has the reputation of being very promiscuous (to say the least). This female juvenile witness was interviewed at her middle school. Again, there is no mention to contact a parent, a parent’s presence—nothing. Clearly, these kids are giving the detectives unnecessary information about others that has absolutely nothing to do with the case that they’re investigating, which is why a parent should be present. Many people have told me—that based on the incompetence of these investigators—my son and I have nothing to worry about if or when his case goes to trial. For my family—that’s great news! However, as a mother, as a United States citizen, as a registered voter and as a taxpayer—I cannot wrap my mind around what would make these law enforcement officers think that they can have their way with our kids.
If you are a parent of a school aged kid, take a minute to imagine learning (after the fact) that your kid, while at school, had been questioned about a double murder of a brother and sister, whereas the female victim was pregnant and her toddler (who was unharmed) was left in their townhouse for hours before being discovered. In the meantime, law enforcement officers think that they may have the culprit.
My son and I did not learn of him really being the actual “prime suspect” of this double murder investigation until we were standing before a circuit court judge in adult court during a bond hearing (in juvenile court, after a whisper in the state prosecutor’s ear from Detective Odham, the state decided to Direct File the cultivating marijuana charge and possession of drug paraphernalia). This circuit court judge explained to us—(in my own words) that the night when my son and I were being held hostage at the sheriff’s office, sure enough Leon County Sheriff detectives had served a search warrant on his co-worker’s apartment looking for something to make my son the murderer. Of course, I knew about some of the search warrants, and I knew that the detectives were grasping at straws. But it all didn’t seem actually real until the judge went against the public defender’s request for him (the judge) to disregard the state’s request to have my son placed on an ankle-monitoring device. The public defender asked the judge to focus on the charges at hand and not possible future murder charges that may or may not come down against my son, when setting bond. The judge in response stated, “He’s not going to flee under my watch”. That’s when it all became real to me. My son and I were losing a double murder case in court before he had been officially charged.
So holds truth to the words of the late United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, “The poor man charged with crime, has no lobby…”
In my opinion, of my generation, it seems like every since the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Denver, Colorado, school officials and law enforcement officers has called it “Open Season” on our kids. Almost always feeding parents information after the fact. When our kids are away from home (whether at school or out and about in the community) and school staff members and/or law enforcement officers are aware of potential danger that our kids maybe facing or illegal activity that our kids maybe being accused of –then that’s the time for them as “professionals” to “snitch” to us (the parents). After all, they are supposed to be patrolling our community. That’s what they get paid to do. We as taxpayers pay their salaries. If we could be with our kids at all times, then why send them to school? If we could be with our kids at all times, then why have police officers patrolling our neighborhoods? It’s hypocritical to ask people in communities to support schools and law enforcement agencies—when there’s little to no support in return. And it’s twice as hypocritical to ask us to snitch on others to help them out, when they don’t snitch on our kids to help us out.