Sunday, August 11, 2013

I have the right to........

The town where I worked is only in existence because of a large military installation at its borders.
So a large part of the population are either military personnel or dependents.  Typical military is that this population isn't stagnant by any means.  Nearly all of the soldiers move in for 2 years and then they move on to another location.  Usually, if I'd come in contact with them I would not see them again unless it was a felony case where they were detained in the County jail.

At one time there seemed to be an influx of military moving to town with wives from Korea or Cambodia.  These women were subservient to their husbands as is the custom in their homeland.  The husband would attempt to keep them out of the American society as much as possible out of fear that they would become 'Americanized". 

Soldiers spent several days and nights in the field at Ft. Hood, Texas and they were not allowed to go home until the maneuvers were completed.  This left a lot time for the wives to get lonesome and seek friendship from other wives.  There were bars and clubs galore in nearby towns, bingo was very prevalent as were churches.  But, churches were not open late at night so other entertainment was pursued.  All these things cost money that these families did not have a lot of.  When the spouses would come home from the fields and either didn't find their wives at home or they discovered all the money in the bank gone this caused trouble.  Domestic disturbances can be deadly for police officers as spouses who argue and fight with each is one thing but when an officer gets involved he or she has to respond according to the laws and not according to emotions. 

One night my partner and I responded to a domestic disturbance called in by neighbors.  Upon our arrival we heard the fight in the parking lot.  The lady was screaming loudly and we were able to hear her being slapped by someone.  A male voice was yelling at her, "I am going to send you back to your parents! You spent all our money and now you will be deported!"  As we walked into the residence through an open door we found them in a bedroom.  We separated the husband from his wife.  She was a very small Korean girl probably no more than 20 years old.  Her face was bruised and red and she was visibly upset and crying.  When I calmed her down she related to me that her husband had left her some money when he went to the field and she had to use it to get a ride to go to the doctor in his absence.  She had to use it all and he was angry about it.  She begged me not to let him send her back to her parents as she'd be disgraced.
I contacted my partner to find out what the husband's story was.  He had related nearly the same story.  He was upset that she'd spent the cash he'd given her.  I asked if he was aware of what she'd spent it on and I was told it didn't matter why.  It was his money and she was to have saved it for him. 
As we calmed down both parties in this dispute we eventually brought them together in the same room.  The husband told us that it was 'his right' to strike his wife if she disobeyed him.  He brought her to the United States and he could have her deported whenever he wanted.  I was taken aback at his cockiness and total disregard for his wife as another person.  So I politely told him that he was dead WRONG!  As long as she has an alien visa she would not be deported on his word alone.  As for the money it was as much hers as it is his.  She is his spouse and Texas is a community property state which means that 50% of what he owns she owns. I recognize that law and so does the military. 

I further explained to him that I as an officer of the law have rights to protect both he and his wife from harm.  The harm may be from either of them or another.  By the look of the bruises on his wife's face it is doubtful in my mind that she received them from herself so in order for me to fully protect her you are leaving the residence at least for the night or maybe more.  Of course this made him more angry and I told him if he continued to be abusive he'd be going to jail but because of his financial issues I would be dropping him off at the east gate of Ft Hood where the military police will deal with him. This is my right!   After a few phone calls the arrangements were made and my partner took the husband to Ft. Hood.
After they'd left I made sure the wife was going to be alright and I even called a friend to come stay with her.  As we were waiting for the arrival of her friend we visited.  I reassured her that she would NOT BE DEPORTED.  She was relieved.  Out of curiosity I asked her how much money did he leave you while he was in the field for 2 weeks?  She told me it was only twenty dollars!  She further related that she was sick everyday and had to get a taxi to take her to the doctor where she found out that she is pregnant.  This child is having a child and her husband needs to grow up! 
I truly hope they make it.
As was usual the wife did not want to file any assault charges against her husband.  We had the ability to either arrest or turn the issue over to the military at that time.  I hoped that I made the right choice as I brought the young family some salvation from harm.

For a short time I was an investigator with the detective division and I was able to work all different types of criminal cases.  This is truly a learning experience that has stayed with me even to this day.
The following case was very difficult to investigate but the outcome is true justice.

A young girl, 16 years old, had told a school counselor that she had been sexually assaulted.  She refused to tell the counselor who had committed the assault.  The school called the police department and reported what the young girl had related to them. This is a heinous crime and we respond quickly to them.  Myself and another investigator went to the school.  We asked the principal to contact the girls mother and to have her come to the school right away.  We also requested that she not be told the issue over the phone and to reassure her that her daughter was alright. 
While awaiting the arrival of the girl's mother I gathered as much information about the child's full name and address and parents name as I could.  I found that her father was a military officer and her mother a business professional. 
When the mother arrived at the school she panicked when she realized that we were the police even though we were not in uniform but plainclothes.  As we sat in an office with the girl and her mother the girl told us all that she had been raped.  She was visibly shaking and crying.  She even seemed to be in a catatonic state as she stared straight ahead as she spoke. Her mother immediately asked," Who did this to you?"  Her daughter did not respond, except to cry.  
My partner explained to the mother that we would be transporting her daughter to a local hospital for medical attention and to obtain evidence via a 'rape kit'.  She would be taken in an unmarked police
vehicle and she was welcome to ride along, if she desired.  The mother stated that she would go but she needed to call her husband first.  The young girl then started begging her mother not to tell her father what had happened.  Over and over again she'd beg, "please don't tell him!"  The surprised mother relinquished and told the girl that she wouldn't tell him.
Upon our arrival at the hospital the young girl was taken to a solitary exam room by my partner as I stayed with the mother.  After the proper paperwork was completed for the hospital record I began to interview the mother.  I asked questions about her daughter's social life and home life.  The mother spoke with a lot of pride when she related that her daughter was an honor roll student, had lots of friends, and went to church faithfully each week.  She is a 'good' girl and mom can't understand how this could happen.  I learned that there is a brother in the family but he is older and away at college. 
When I asked about the outburst over the father being told of the situation the mother said it was probably because her daughter is a 'daddy's ' girl. 
Upon the completion of the evidence processing we brought the mother and the girl to the offices of the detective unit where written statements were completed.  The young girl asked her mother if she could go stay with her grandmother for the night and weekend?  She had no school on Friday (the next day) she didn't want to be alone.  Her mother granted her request and gave me the address and phone number where her daughter would be staying.  Due to the time of night that it was I dropped the mother off at the school to get her car and I then took her daughter to her grandmother's home.
Finally, this day was over!  I went home but the events of the day played over and over in my mind.

Our day starts early as we clock in at 8 a.m.  We discuss the reports from the night before of the 16 year old victim. Crisis intervention  and counseling for her is very much needed. We decide that we need to contact her father and ask him to come to the station so we can talk to him.
I call the civil liaison office at Ft. Hood and ask that they escort this officer to us.  The Sergeant on duty tells me that he is not an officer that he is only a Warrant Officer which is actually a civilian contractor that works with the Army because he specializes in a field that the military needs. He is working through a contract (of sorts) for the Army.  I guess this might mean something to the military but it really means nothing to me other than he has a job and I have to ask for his presence in my office through a liaison.

After about 2 hours of making arrangements for his daughter to receive counseling her father arrives at our offices. He is questioning us as why is he here?  We are somewhat confused and ask him if he had spoken to his wife last night?  He looks at us and tell us that he was already asleep when she came in so they didn't speak. So my partner takes it upon herself to tell him exactly what had happened to his daughter.  He sits quietly and listens to everything she says.  His expressions never change and he doesn't say a word or ask any questions.  This is highly unusual.  When she is finished we tell him that we are leaving the room but will return shortly.  He nods his head.  We leave and go to the next room to watch him react, if he is going to. We watch him through a one way mirror that resembles a window on his side.  This man doesn't even move. 
Because of his lack of emotion we decide that only one of us is going to return to the room and speak with him.  The other is going to simply listen and watch.  We toss a coin and I lost so I get to go back and talk to him. 
I apologize to him for taking so long and tell him that I will be the only investigator talking with him today.  This time he smiles!  I begin by asking him when was the last time he saw his daughter?  He tells me it was Wednesday evening. They were all at home out in the swimming pool.  They'd cooked outside then they swam and lounge until after dark. His wife works at a business where she has to travel a lot so she goes to bed rather early which she did that night.  But he and his daughter stayed out at the pool until well after 10 p.m.  I them asked him to tell me some things about his daughter.  'Like what?', he asked.  Tell me about her social activities.  "Well, she has a lot of friends.  No boyfriends yet, though as I won't allow it", he says.  I say, 'she is a pretty girl and no boyfriend?'
This time when he responds he is cocky and self righteous in his tone and he proceeds to tell me in no uncertain terms, the follow: "I am her father!  I brought her in to this world and I have raised and provided for her for 16 years.  I have the right to be the first man she ever has.  She was a virgin until Wednesday and this I know for a fact because she wasn't raped.  I had the right as her father to have intercourse with her and I did!"  I know I was totally surprised by his outburst.  I had the good sense though to read him his Miranda warnings before I said another word or he did.  After I read his rights to him he said he understood them.  I next asked him why was it not rape?  Did she consent?  (She is a juvenile and can't give consent but he didn't know that) He told me it was not rape because he is her father and it was his 'right'. She fought him the entire time until he overpowered her and he told her it was going to happen so she had better stop fighting him.  He laughed as he proudly told me of his conquest of his virgin daughter.  I was sick to my stomach when he was done.  I wanted to wring his neck but I took out a statement form and a pen and asked him to write a statement of everything he just told me.  
He looked at the paper then he said, "Listen, sister.  I am Warrant Officer*Smith which means I am no dummy.  Once I write down what I just told you I am in jail.  I won't write one word.  What I said in here is simply between you and me.  My word against your word.  There is nothing you can do about it." 
I calmly responded, "Mr. Smith, my name is Investigator T and you will refer to me by that name only.  Warrant Officer means nothing to me as I am a civilian and you are too when you are off the military reservation as you are this minute.  You are correct you do not have to give me a written statement because verbal confessions are biding in the State of Texas.  Mr. Smith please stand up." He stood up. As he did I walked behind him and told him he was under arrest for the rape of his daughter, C Smith."  I clamped those handcuffs on him so fast!
Of course he demanded an attorney and began calling me names which always happens when the guilty are caught. 
I this case I have the right to see to it that he is sent away for a long time.
I made a difference to the little girl he raised as I watched her grow to be a beautiful and successful counselor for victims of violent crimes. She is now their salvation.

Thank You, Jesus, for giving me the strength to be there for her when she needed me.
* (Smith is not the real last name )