Photo Credit: Fletcher

Letter To Editor: Not To Protect Nor Serve

Stillwater, Ok April, 19 (The Oklahoma Post) –

I’ve been following an ongoing Tort claim on OSCN website, Payne County Oklahoma case #CJ-2021-19 involving OKDHS, the City of Stillwater, including the Stillwater Police Department. This claim stems from a father’s attempts to modify a joint custody agreement following multiple allegations of both sexual & physical abuse perpetrated by the biological mother.

The father’s attempts to protect his son thru OKDHS and local PD hit roadblocks at every turn, hence the necessity for a Tort claim. In a ruling by Judge Kistler on May 21, 2021 OKDHS and City’s motions to dismiss the claim were denoted as ‘very similar’ and both were rightfully denied based on violation of civil rights. This father will be granted his due day in court, and the Judge has demanded a Jury Trial. The sole defense for both entities’ dismissal motions used a single weak and oversimplified precedent stating -“Therefore, no one member of the public has a right to compel a public official to act” in a lawful capacity. This basically implies that neither the police (nor DHS in this case) complied with their moral and legal obligations to protect and serve. Broken down the precedent asserts that private citizens don’t have a constitutional right for protection, or to charge an official to investigate or prosecute a crime. If taken literally, no one would be owed the right to seek or receive help from law enforcement nor would any officers be liable for their failure to act.

If taken at its merit, the precedent allows officers to pick & choose who they serve and ultimately protect. This is especially troublesome when children are involved, unfortunately, this amazing child was not protected. I’m hoping this editorial may shed some light on a systemic problem and take steps to begin correcting it. As an Oklahoman native, I feel all parents and residents should be made aware of how poorly this case has been handled by agencies devised to protect, as this could easily happen to a child you love. The Tort claim will likely take its time but one thing that time does not allow for is the risk of safety for all citizens, especially children. In their defense to dismiss, the city’s attorney asserted that ‘city didn’t cause harm, the (alleged) abuser did’. This feels like a failure on part of an entire police department despite involving only a few officers, and the result now is using taxpayers’ dollars to pay for their defense. 

To be noted, and can also be found on oscn, shortly after Tort Claim was filed, the joint custody agreement in family court was amended giving the alleged abuser full custody, putting the child at even further risk. As a human with natural protective instincts this only amplifies concerns for this particular child’s well-being and seems like a total system failure: not only did it fail to protect a child from harm but it ultimately resulted in putting the child at heightened risk for abuse. We NEED reform Oklahoma and it can start here, as children are left in harm’s way much too often. I sincerely hope the details of this claim will be uncovered, the outcome will set new precedents, and it will promote the changes so desperately needed not only to protect children in our state but also pave the way for father’s rights. I will continue to pray for not only the safety of this child but for yours as well.

OSCN-Case-Details-City-Of-Stillwater

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(Writing by Anonymous Oklahoma Professional, MA, Counselor; Letter To The Editor)


(Editor’s Note ): None

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