Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Malicious Intent and The Sheriff's Deputy's Refusal to Do Anything

Yesterday is over and after a long night that included a visit to the ER, I'm mulling over our next step.

After Paul took Sadie to the ER I burst into tears. Sadie hates doctors (all the ear infections she had when she was tiny) and I knew that she would be hysterical and terrified. But taking Maggie to the ER wasn't an option, so I stayed behind until Nani got home from her hour and a half drive back from The City (she was on her way home when all this started) and came to watch Maggie.

As I was walking out the door to go to the ER our phone rang and it was Deputy Oliver. I can honestly say that when he first began to speak I knew that the conversation wasn't going to go in a productive direction. I told him exactly what had gone: our two year olds bed room had filled with pot smoke from our next door neighbor and she began to have asthmatic symptoms. She could hardly breath. She was now in the ER.

Deputy Oliver's response: I can't do anything, because your neighbor didn't have malicious intent. He has to intend to hurt her for us to do anything.

I was blown away, but tried to inject some logic into the conversation. The ridiculousness of the situation was clear. I thought of the little girl who was all over the news a few months ago who was Sadie's age and who was taken away from her mother who forced her to smoke pot. The entire nation was aghast. And here I have a daughter who can't breath because our neighbor has filled her room with pot smoke (and let's face it POT IS STILL AGAINST FEDERAL LAW even if we don't have a federal government who's interested in enforcing that law) and he's telling me it's not even worth his time to come out and try to help.

I gave him a hypothetical situation: Say two parents are using meth in front of their young children. They aren't trying to harm their children. They're just trying to get high. Are you telling me that you wouldn't arrest them?

Of course he would, but he said that since he wasn't in her room "blowing smoke on her" he wasn't doing anything wrong.

I pointed out that using marijuana is still illegal in California, this month at least, and that we still don't even know if the person in question has a 215 card. He asked if I'd like him to come over and check. I said yes, because although I can't say with 100% certainty which apartment it is I think it would be pretty easy to figure it out (there are two apartments on the side of the house that stinks... and since one of those apartments is still empty and being renovated, therefore it must be the other...). It was apparently a rhetorical question though, since he had no intention of coming over.

After ten minutes of going round and round with a man who repeated his own completely illogical arguments, despite the fact that I gave him multiple examples of times when his argument wouldn't be true, I said, "Fine. It's clear that you're not going to help us. I need to get to the ER to be with my sick child. I want you to know that I'm going to tell every single person that I can about this situation." And I hung up the phone and walked out the door.

Sadie was hysterically screaming at the hospital. They'd taped a bag to her to collect urine to test, and she was waiting to have a chest x-ray because her chest sounded "raspy." She clung to me and to her Curious George doll and we snuggled under her Tinker Bell fuzzy blanket. She had a fever of just below 102. So we think that she was also sick, but that the fumes triggered an asthma attack... which we are/were praying that the girls had missed having (Paul does).

The chest x-ray came back clear and they sent Sadie home with her little taped on bag, which we're still waiting for her to fill (this kid so could be potty trained if she wasn't so stubbornly set against it!).

Paul did call the sheriff (who was wonderful to take our panicked call in the middle of the night) and he said he'd look into it.

And this morning we're watching Dora (which distracts Sadie from being sick) and pondering our next step.

Something needs to be done to protect our children from drugs. This is a major problem and if marijuana is "legalized" next month, it's going to grow.

I'm going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening, because truly, this isn't a "victimless crime." I could see the face of one of the victims when I looked at my gasping child last night.


  1. I am sad this situation happened, and it can happen all too often. Even in homes and not apartments. I will keep you in our prayers.

  2. Are there any anti-drug anti-legalizing marijuana groups you could contact? They might 1) help get your story out and 2) have some more ideas on what you can do.

    Is it possible for you to move? I know that isn't ideal, but your neighborhood sounds like a horrible place to raise children.

  3. Thank you for the prayers. I'm looking into contacting everyone I possibly can.

    Moving isn't really an option in that we live in the "best" apartments in our town. It's just that marijuana use is very common here because this is one of the major centers of marijuana production. People come here and get paid $200 a day to clip marijuana plants, and in a county with 25% unemployment, it's a big draw.

    It's sad because it's such a beautiful small town with four generations of family in the county (if you scroll down you can see the pictures of the town during our quilt fair), but it's just being ravaged by the marijuana industry.

    I am motivated to try to change things though... I just need to figure out the next step.

  4. I'm sorry that this happened to you and your family. I hope she is feeling better today.

    I'm an asthma sufferer and I was just commenting last night how my whole town reeks like Pot. It's disgusting! I also live in a small town in the mountains of Northern California. While my town doesn't seem as bad off as yours, My town isn't too far behind. I can only imagine how bad it will be if they do legalize it. I can only hope and pray that the voters of this state will come to their senses.

    I had a similiar situation to yours when my daugther was 14 months old. My husband and I were getting out of our car at a store, and this couple in the car next to yours blew a huge cloud of pot smoke on me and the baby. Also, this I can say, was on purpose since they were totally laughing about it. I, of course, freaked out and hurried to the store so I could call the police but they left and sped out of the parking lot before I got the chance to. To this day, it still makes me mad.

    Have you and your husband thought about going directly to your neighbor? ... like in a non confrontational way? Maybe if you just explain what happened, maybe he will quit smoking in that room that is against Sadie's wall at least.

  5. My heart absolutely breaks for you right now. My best advice would be to start by having Paul talk to the neighbor, and then expand from there. I'd definitely talk to some local media outlets about it. There is no reason Sadie and Maggie should have to even smell that, let alone what happened.

    If there's anything I can do to help, just let us know.

  6. to Aimee - A thought about going directly to the neighbor. Keep in mind this person is under the influence of mind-altering drugs. NO, it is NOT a good idea for Cammie, or even Paul to directly confront their neighbor without the support of law enforcement.

    If you have any doubts about this, you can email me.


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