The young woman wanted a police officer to accompany her to her mother's house and retrieve her child. The grandmother had been keeping the child and now would not return him to his mother. I asked the young mother for her name and her mother's name. She gave them to me and I immediately recalled the grandmother.
Grandma had come into the Police Department a month or two earlier. She explained to me that her daughter had left her grandson in her care and had taken off with no explanation as to where she was going, how to contact her, or when she would return. Grandma wanted to know what to do to be able to keep the child. I told her to immediately contact an attorney and inquire about getting custody. From what I had heard about her daughter and was now observing with her and the little boy, he was better off with Grandma. I stooped to talk to the little guy, about the age of my own son. I then wished Grandma luck on getting custody. She thanked me and left. Now I was on my way to her apartment with her daughter and hoping she had gotten the paperwork done, or at least started.
As soon as Mom and I started up the walk, Grandma came out of the apartment. She didn't want us on the premises. I asked her if the woman with me was Mom. She admitted that she was. I then asked her for any paperwork giving her legal custody of her grandson. She had none. I would have settled for anything to muddy the water a little and allow me to leave the boy with Grandma. There was nothing. She hadn't even called a lawyer. I was incredulous and out of options. I told her she would need to turn the lad over to his mother. She protested, pointing out rightfully that she was the better guardian. I explained that I had no choice without some kind of legal paperwork to back me up. We entered the apartment.
Mom gathered up the boy and some of his clothes and started out the door. The child began to cry and call for Grandma. Mom carried him out the door as I looked at the floor. It wasn't right, Mom taking this child, but it was legal and I had no options. Right at my feet was a toy hammer identical to the one that my own little boy would be playing with when I returned home. Mom carried the young one to the car, buckled him in, and drove away without a backward glance. She hadn't even told Grandma goodbye or how to contact her.
I had Mom's contact information and decided to pass it on to Grandma. She would need it if she decided to pursue custody. I cleared my throat and began to speak. Grandma cut me off. She began to yell at me that I shouldn't have let her daughter take her grandson. I tried to explain that I had no choice. Unheeding, she got louder. I didn't care about children at all, she explained. I was probably corrupt anyway on top of it all. If the child died or was injured as a result of her daughter's lack of care she would be sure to let me know since it would be my fault and should rest on my conscience. Of course I probably didn't have one. I could leave now that I had put her grandson in danger, probably had donuts to eat or bribes to collect anyway.
That was enough. After five minutes of the tirade I cut Grandma off. My turn I told her. Shut up and listen. She had been told previously to get the paperwork in order to avoid just such a situation as this. She didn't do it. Not my problem. Having a boy of my own of the same age I understood her frustration and did care.
That seemed to catch her by surprise but she quickly rallied. What she had or hadn't done didn't matter. I had no right to let the boy's mother take him. Having my own lad didn't insure my sensitivity, my boy was undoubtedly white and her grandson was black. I just hated black children and it didn't matter to me if they lived or died. I was a racist and didn't value her grandson as much as I would have a white child in the same circumstances. Had the boy been white I would have acted differently.
I turned, walked back to my car, and left. As I pulled away from the curb I called dispatch and advised them that I was done with the call.