Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Colo. social workers respond to boy's head bruise with SWAT team

There's disturbing news of police and social workers' overreaction to a childhood injury from a Colorado mountain town along the I-70 corridor. CBS4, the Grand Junction Sentinel and WorldNetDaily all cover the story. Here's the timeline:

Thursday night: 11-year-old boy goofs off, grabbing at the car door handle as his older sister pulls away. The boy slips, falls and bruises his head. Dad Tom Shiflett, a 62-year-old former medic who served in Vietnam, carries the kid home. After surveying the damage, Dad thinks the kid will be fine.

Concerned neighbors call paramedics, who upon arriving ask to see the kid. Like Dad, they find no significant problems. But the paramedics decide he needs to go to the hospital for an evaluation. Knowing the cost of hospital visits, the family refuses. The paramedics insist, but the family decides not to follow their advice.
So the ambulance crew, who also could not be reached by WND, called police, only to be told the decision was up to the Shiflett family.

The paramedics then called the sheriff's office, and officers responded to the home, and were told everyone was being cared for.

Then the next day, Friday, social services workers appeared at the door and demanded to talk with John "in private."

The social workers too are rebuffed. Fearing the worst from having watched one too many episodes of Judging Amy, they get a court order for a search warrant and medical treatment.

Then on Friday night the All Hazards Response Team arrives. According to WND:
Nearly a dozen members of a police SWAT team in western Colorado punched a hole in the front door and invaded a family's home with guns drawn, demanding that an 11-year-old boy who had had an accidental fall accompany them to the hospital, on the order of Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak.

The boy's parents and siblings were thrown to the floor at gunpoint and the parents were handcuffed in the weekend assault...

Six of the family's 10 children still live at home. Are social workers as excessively suspicious of large families as I think they are?

WND is known for its sensationalism, but its description of the sheriff's rationale is disturbing even when accounting for WND's style:
The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a "self-proclaimed constitutionalist" and had made threats and "comments" over the years.

So dad's a complaining crank. Considering the response to his son's ordinary childhood faceplant, he has a lot to complain about.

CBS4 reports on the court-ordered medical treatment the boy received: "The doctor recommended fluids, Tylenol and ice to treat the bruises, according to a copy of Jon's patient aftercare instructions."

On Thursday night I met with one of my garrulous blog readers. He said with a dramatic hush in his voice that one could attract severe trouble from the government merely by calling oneself a constitutionalist. I thought he was being paranoid.

No comments: