My son’s case is next month and I’m already starting to stress about it. The case might not technically be in my name (my son’s case), but it IS against me. I plan on writing a victim impact statement as it was I who called 911 that day. It was I who followed my child’s crisis plan and picked up that phone. And it is I who am struggling with the aftermath of that ridiculous and mind blowing day that forever changed the way in which I view the local police department, crisis plans, and seeking medical help for my child. They have taught me to fear calling the police. They have taught me that a crisis plan is no more than an arrest plan. They have taught me that the police department values do not align with what they pretend it does and the juvenile justice system is no better.
I received a phone call a month after that 911 call to get an assist to drive my son to the ER (per his crisis plan). “Your son has a warrant out for his arrest,” she told me. I laughed. I thought it was a joke that is how far from reality I thought that call was. When she persisted, I told her she must have the wrong kid, what did my son ever do? They told me he assaulted a police officer….This is a felony charge… When the heck did this happen, as I knew that was completely impossible. My son is very polite with officers and he maintains himself to the best of his ability out in public. They advised me of the date this occurred and the only thing on the calendar for that day was the 911 call and ER visit. You have got to be kidding me… They charged him for melting down about going to the ER and not wanting to go willingly. Of course he didn’t, that why I called in the first place. He was committing self harm and melting down over being told he had to go to the ER for medical clearance which meant blood work. One of his biggest fears is needles and medical procedures. In fact he now has PTSD over this and anything medical related.
Would you charge a child for throwing a temper tantrum over getting a shot? What if that child actually kicked and thrashed and threw things? Pure fear radiating from the kid as he screams bloody murder and fights off any attempt to approach. No, that wasn’t my son that day. My son was verbal, completely broke in the brain in that moment but never struck out at the officers, never kicked, never punched or headbutted, he simply refused to walk himself, yelled all kinds of unpleasant stuff and made a mouth motion as if he was going to bite them when they were restraining him on the ground for not walking willingly. Absolutely no physical harm was done to any officer. Do I like the words that came out of my kids mouth? Absolutely not. My son has austim, severe anxiety and depression and when he is angry or completely afraid, he reacts verbally. That’s how he copes. That’s how a lot of kids with autism or DMDD cope. Most of the time they save it for at home and do well in the public setting. My child was home, not out in the community.
The Meridian Police Department have partnered with CIT. CIT is a program that works with police departments all over the country to change their approach on mental health calls with our juveniles. They are a program to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and rather direct them to the right mental health services in the community to avoid wasting time and money on charging kids that are more suitable to getting help and not crime related. This actually seems common sense but in Idaho, they lack simple laws and procedures that actually get people help and do the right thing for the community. Instead, they have been charging people and punishing them for not having their mental health crisis under control. Even with this program in place, AND training currently going on in Idaho on working with kids with autism, they failed to utilize their agreement with CIT and implement the very program they agreed to. Not once did they call after that fateful day and ask if my son needed help with services or direct me to the appropriate places. Instead, they charged him with a crime and are punishing not only him, but me as well.
The prosecutor in this case is actually likable and seems to have some common sense. After speaking with him about what happened, he immediate dropped the warrant but the charges were not dropped. At one of the hearings, he informed the judge that he may be dropping the felony charge and he sought to do so, but his supervisor refused to allow him to drop the charge. He would still have the misdemeanor charge of resisting but for some reason, she wants both charges to stay. I don’t understand that. I was told that they typically continue charges to make sure my son is getting the mental health services he needs. So why keep both charges on the table? Why hasn’t anyone bothered to call and see what services he is actually already receiving or to share any further services that may be out there? I feel like I’m simply being lied to. I believe the prosecutor believes what he told me but the actions of his supervisor and the department don’t align.
Is this really how Idaho wants treat it’s disabled population? A population less likely to be able to defend itself. Simply throw charges on a kid who has no prior violent charges, who’s simply struggling to live his life and be left alone and they want to label him a criminal and punish him for having a fear of needles and going to hospitals. Again, would we charge a 7 year old, 8, 9, 10… for fighting to avoid a shot? I know that’s happened many many times in hospitals throughout the country when a needle comes out. Do we charge all those kids for this? How is it that much different from charging a freshly turned 16 year old with autism who has a real and absolute fear to the point of PTSD? And yet, he absolutely didn’t hurt anyone. Mind Blown!
So I’d like to write a victim impact statement. I and my son are the victims. You can not imagine the amount of stress and anxiety this has put on us both. I am disabled and stress exacerbates my conditions. My flare has not died since it started shortly after that call. I’m not going to elaborate further into my own mental health stresses but this was seriously the icing on the cake. This has harmed my family. There is no greater good in this situation. There is no inadvertently helping my child in this situation. After speaking to other families who have gone through similar, the services offered in Idaho are the very same services he’s currently seeking/getting and utilizing the very same company to evaluate and direct. We’re already enrolled in it on our own. And don’t get me started on the lack of services for our kids in this state or the waitlist for services. It’s appalling. That would be an entirely new post all on it’s own.
I just can’t wrap my head around it all. I just don’t understand why this is happening. We need real change in Idaho. Common sense changes that actually help our children. More programs to be available to them and more staff to fulfill the long waitlists for the services they do offer. We need to stop charging our children with crimes for things that truly should not be called a crime when it’s something as simple as a medical assist call per the very crisis plan set up by the doctors and mental health community for our children. I now fear calling the police. I’m now jaded in my view of the department. I’m now jaded in my view of the juvenile justice system. I’m now a very stressed out mom fighting the system and praying that common sense will prevail and by some miracle, the felony will be dropped from his charges. In fact, all of it should be dropped. I shouldn’t have to choose between accepting a misdemeanor we don’t believe in or risk having him labeled as a felon for the rest of his life for simply calling 911 that day per his crisis plan. I just needed an assist to get him to the hospital. This is not justice.