I didn't ask if I could record the conversation on my blog, so I won't. You don't want people in uniforms to get angry with you. Let's just say that I had a visit with two people who were investigating the abuse of a senior by a paid 'aide'. They are taking the crime very seriously and they took me very seriously as a witness. I was able to describe what I saw vividly, they seemed pleased.
On they way out the 'Woman in Blue' said, "One more question, why did your note to her tell her to call the police not the agency. I would think that most people would have thought of us second, if they thought of us at all."
I said, "You'd both better sit down."
For the next 20 minutes I talked about the work I've been doing with Vita Community Living Services. The changes that we are making in an organized and thoughtful effort to become abuse free - and if not abuse free, to become an organization that is actively hostile towards abuse. While we have made many changes towards that effort, what we have done hangs on our abuse reporting policy. Any front line staff who witness abuse, or has abuse reported to them needs to understand that they have witnessed a crime or have had a crime reported to them. The organization that investigates crime is the police. Any organization that investigates itself is fraudulent in their responsibility to safety, therefore staff report the crime to the police FIRST and to the agency second. Staff are trained to leave off questioning and leave off investigation, their job is support. SUPPORT. Not investigation.
Criminals are caught by police and convicted by courts. There is no room for agency politics, agency fears, agency misrepresentation. None.
I knew, I just knew, if that old lady had called the agency nothing would happen, or worse, she'd be in more danger than ever. You reach "out" for help. You need the protection of an "outsider" when the crime is committed by an "insider" ... this is a simple concept. Agencies that do not have the courage to be open I believe need someone to come along with the jaws of life and pry them open. Agencies that have manangement without the will to be open I believe need to have the top pruned so that healthy growth within can occur.
Cop eyes are hard eyes. But the ones that looked at me softened for a moment when she said, "You realize, you may have saved her life."
That was my intent.