Archive for December 17th, 2007

Four Police Encounters in Three Weeks – Part One

Monday, December 17th, 2007
police and lightsphoto by Aubrey Tennant

Four Police Encounters in Three Weeks – Part One–
This is the next installment of Recollectionswhere I am catching up my son’s story from last summer. These four encounters occurred between hospitalizations one and two… between June 19th and July 13th. My son’s diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder with psychosis, although no one had told us that yet.

A couple of days out of the hospital my son, DS, was home alone with his father. His father was in the next room when he heard DS’s voice saying, “I would like to report a crime,” and realized that DS was talking on the telephone to the 911 operator. DS was telling her something about there being dangerous narcotics in the house. When DS was done talking to the 911 operator, his father got on the line and informed the operator that DS was having a bit of trouble with reality, having been recently discharged from the hospital. The operator said the police would need to come anyway to investigate. Dad said that was fine; he used to be a police officer himself, and he understood that.

When the officer arrived from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, DS told him that the drugs were in a plastic grocery bag with some paperback books in it. These were books that had been borrowed from an informal paperback exchange in his  grandparents’ neighborhood. DS was very concerned about the officer touching the bag because the drugs were so dangerous they were giving off fumes. The officer humored DS by putting on latex gloves and making a careful inspection. He asked DS if it would be okay if he disposed of them properly. DS agreed.

The officer took the bag outdoors and asked Dad to join him so DS would not hear. The officer asked if Dad wanted the books. Dad told him to just take them away.

Another day I had taken my five-year daughter and three-year old son to play at a playground in the early evening. When we got home, I gave them their baths, put them to bed, and got on the computer to take care of some business. I did not see DS from the time we had gotten home and I did not think much of it, assuming he was asleep in his room. At 10:30 pm I got a telephone call from a police officer. He said, “I am with your son.” Of course, I stupidly say, “Which son? DS?”

“Yes,” the officer tells me. “We are down at the Cherokee Recreation Center and he says he wants to get out on his own, but we don’t think he is ready.” There is a family member at home to stay with the little ones so I drive three miles down the road to where the Cherokee Recreation Center is. There are two men and two women standing out in front of the building. I felt like I was running some type of a gauntlet with their eyes staring at me as I walked past them to get to the door. I realized they were probably curious people who worked there, and they had the excuse of needing to hang around to lock up after we leave. (Does it take four people to lock up one door?)

When I get inside DS is there with two Woodstock City police officers.  (Good. A new jurisdiction.) He had his packed suitcase with some clothes and a telephone book.  (I was rather glad at this time that his car was parked at his grandparents’ house, where he was unable to drive it. Who knows how far he would have gotten if he was not on foot?) I actually had to work at convincing DS to come home with me and not be homeless. We left together, running the gauntlet again, and DS gave me the story that he went to the Health Department first next door, but it was closed. When he went into the Recreation Center he waited around for them to unlock the door to the payphone that they keep locked up because they don’t want dirty, homeless people to use it. (I don’t think they have any payphones there.) I can just imagine what clued this good folks in that they were dealing with a mental illness, to prompt them to call the police. A few other quotes I have from my notes around that period is that he wanted me to call him Russet, for russet potatoes. He wanted the story of where his real name came from. He seemed to be suspicious about it, or he just wanted a name change to protect himself from the bad guys out to get him. He told me the architecture of the house was all wrong. It was dangerous to have the clothes washing machine so close to the kitchen. He told me his eyes needed to be checked, he could hardly see and he was bumping into things. I made him an appointment with the eye doctor, but later I had to re-schedule it about three times. (story to come)

I will finish telling my “police stories” in Part Two. In summary, I will say I was satisfied with the kindness with which the police handled these situations with my son.