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Friday, May 6, 2016

Help wasn't on time for abuse victim

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Here's another in my continuing series of 'what would you do?' columns, many taken from Shelbyville Police Department reports:

An allegedly-abused woman needs help -- on a weekend. But the state agency which can help isn't available until Monday.

Put yourself into the place of police officers dealing with a hysterically-crying woman who has allegedly been struck by her roommate, another woman -- late on a Saturday afternoon. Investigators realize she needs to be removed from the home.

Attempts to call Adult Protective Services result in:

* At least six calls over two days to a case worker's pager. No responses.

* Word from a Bedford County deputy -- who tried hard to help -- that APS "doesn't come out on weekends" and only works Monday through Friday.

* A call to an area shelter for abused women, which advises they can't accept the victim since she isn't in an "intimate" relationship.

* A plea to Good Samaritan. They pay for Sunday night's lodging at a motel plus one meal and advise that's the only time they can help.

Result: Officers, including the on-duty dispatcher, spend their own money to put the victim in a motel room Saturday night. APS steps in on Monday. But where would the victim have been if no one had cared to help?

A man is standing in his driveway, drunk, wearing only boxer shorts -- at night, in the dark.

You're Boxer Man. You're covered more than you might be at a beach. Do you care -- or are you still sober enough for it to matter -- what a neighbor peeking out of his or her window thinks? Do others have the right to dictate your actions on your own property, as long as they're not harmful to others?

You're his neighbor. Is it really any of your business if Boxer Man wanders around in his underwear as long as he's covered and doesn't harass neighbors, steal or damage anything? But what if you or your family truly are offended?

You're the police. If Boxer Man's only offense is to offend someone else, and he hasn't left private property, what action do you take? What if he lives in multi-family rental property -- meaning the property isn't actually his property? When does "offending" become an offense?

Result: The man had been warned twice before to stay inside when drunk. He was arrested.

You're in a Porsche 911. The road's open -- but it's a city street.

So do you put the hammer down and take off like a bullet? Or slowly cruise along and enjoy the envious stares?

A 23-year-old Murfreesboro man, who we'll call Speed Racer, chose the fast route. A police report quoted on the web site of WGNS radio indicated Speed Racer led police down Memorial Boulevard in Murfreesboro at speeds up to 102 mph before bailing out and speeding away the natural way -- on foot.

Police eventually arrested the man. Was the thrill worth the capture? Should Speed Racer have put a camcorder on the dashboard and documented his wild ride?

Result: The driver was arrested and faces charges.

You don't want a name to appear in the T-G's jail intake listing. So you claim you're a corrections officer and say, "So-and-So gave a false name to us at the jail. His real name is Such-and-Such. Can you change the name on the intake list?"

"Officer Glenn -- badge number 37212" at our service (sounds like a Nashville ZIP code). Problem is, he was only serving himself.

Only supervisory personnel who we know by name -- and whose voices we recognize -- would call us to correct an intake listing.

Corrections officers in Bedford County don't have badge numbers, and deputies' badges are numbered much differently. A real jail officer has a similar name -- but it isn't "Glenn."

Result: The name in "question" was published as listed on the Bedford County Jail intake sheet.

You're a police officer. You answer a 9-1-1 call and are met by an obviously-distraught woman who sprays what she calls "holy water" on another officer and you.

The woman is demanding, in a "belligerent" manner, that officers find and take her to a particular woman or she'll spray the water. She sprays the officers. Is she a threat?

Result: One of the officers uses a shot from a taser to control the woman. No charges are filed, but she's taken to Bedford County Medical Center's emergency room due to her mental state. After officers are called back twice in two hours to get her under control while she awaits placement in a mental health facility, and after being strapped down at least once, she escapes. She's last seen in Willow Mount Cemetery with leather straps still hanging off her arms.

David Melson is a Times-Gazette copy editor/staff writer.

David Melson
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