A few weeks ago, one of our street youth was found drowned in the Ottawa River. I can tell you he came from a broken home, with all the accoutrements that you might imagine might accompany that. He left home when he was 16 and was ‘on and off’ the streets. We have been in relationship with him for the past three years.
A few weeks ago another agency called us to ask if we had seen him. Neither we nor they had contact with him for three weeks or so, and long story short, he was found in the river after partying at his 19th birthday with some friends.
But that’s not my story… There was a memorial service just last week, and many of the kids on the streets were in attendance to pay their respects. Our youth outreach worker had to leave the memorial a bit early and noticed the two policemen that were waiting downstairs just outside in the hallway where the memorial service was held. Imagining that they had come to pay their respects to the deceased, he greeted them and walked outside. ‘Nice of them to come’, he thought.
The next day we started to hear reports about the aftermath of the memorial. Apparently these two policemen were waiting for a specific purpose. They had a number of photographs and list of descriptions of youth who had outstanding warrants, and were waiting for the kids to emerge from the memorial service to apprehend them and take them off to jail. These would be for breeches of probation, failure to show at court, unpaid fines and the like.
OK, so the police are just trying to do their jobs? Yes they are.
Nothing technically wrong with it, there were not violating any laws or anything. It just seems to be a bit shortsighted in that it achieved a short term goal, but does no long term bridge building betweem the kids and the police.
I would love to hear your comments on this one!