Friday, July 19, 2013

Crazy child search in New York

The NY Times reports on a child hysteria story:
In cases of child abduction, law enforcement officers often rush to alert as many people as they can since the grim reality is that the odds of finding a child worsen with each passing moment.

So countless bleary-eyed New Yorkers were jolted upright just before 4 a.m. on Wednesday when their cellphones suddenly started blaring with a message about a 7-month-old boy who had been abducted hours earlier by his mother, who had a history of mental illness, from a foster care agency in Harlem.

It was a watershed moment in the intersection of law enforcement and technology: the first mass Amber Alert sent to cellphones in the city since a national wireless emergency alert system was established. And, the police later said, it directly led to the child’s being located.
So what was it that got everyone in New York out of bed? It was a mom visiting her own son!
In the case of the mass alert on Wednesday, the events started unfolding after the authorities said that Marina Lopez, 25, of Queens, had abducted her son, Mario Danner Jr., on Tuesday afternoon.

The baby had been placed in foster care within the last three months. ...

By Wednesday afternoon, the police said that they had found Ms. Lopez and her son in “good condition.” Ms. Lopez was arrested and charged with custodial interference. The police said she was found after the Amber Alert led to a tip to the department’s Crime Stoppers hot line.

The child was abducted from New York Foundling, a foster care agency. “While stringent protocols are in place, we are thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event,” the agency said in a statement. “Our agency monitors over 50 supervised visits a week with the children in our care and only two such incidents have occurred in the last 20 years.”
Most of those kids on milk cartons are child custody disputes. If you read the fine print, the kid was last seen with the mom or dad.

I got one of those reverse-911 calls a couple of months ago. A recording said that a fugitive was in my neighborhood, and gave a description. So I check that my gun was loaded and handy. Another call a couple of hours later said that he had been apprehended.

The AMBER Alert was passed because of sensationalized stories about stranger kidnappings. However I only ever see it applied to petty child custody disputes. The system is being abused so badly, that I don't think that I would call it in if I had the evidence wanted by an Amber alert. I would risk danger to stop a true kidnapping, but I resent being called to take sides in a child custody dispute when I do not know who is in the right.

So maybe some stupid meddlesome NY social worker or shrink decided that Lopez was bipolar and her baby belongs in foster care. I have no confidence in that decision. I have the impression that putting a child in foster care is a mistake most of the time. It is rare that a baby is harmed by her mom, even if she is bipolar. Babies get harmed in foster care all the time. I would be annoyed if I was awoken at 4am just because some random Puerto Rican mom across town overexstended her visit with her baby.

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