Crimes Against the Innocent

His expression when he stepped out of the elevator and walked towards me was not one you would expect to see on the face of a veteran detective.  His eyes were sad, and there were lines set deep into the corners of his mouth, lines I was sure hadn’t been there a few days prior.  He stopped next to me, as if to say something, but instead he slowly shook his head before looking into the room where I stood sentry at the door.

A crime scene.

Where a young child had been neglected and abused.  In a hotel better known for it’s drug trade, violent history and cockroaches.  I had never seen a child inside the hotel, especially one as young as four years old.  Drug dealers, criminals and the destitute were the only ones any of us had ever seen call the hotel home. 

It just wasn’t right.

The detective had come from Children’s Hospital. Yes, the little boy would pull through in the physical sense of the word, but the scars left behind on his four year old psyche would take years to sooth. 

How could someone entrusted to look after a child withhold food, clothing and medical attention?  How could someone withhold love, affection and nurturing?  How could someone so severely neglect a child that the child clung to the first set of warm arms in the same way a drowning victim would cling to a life preserver?

One officer said the little boy was suffering from malnutrition, that his tiny ribs stood out in clear relief against his parchment like skin.  The officer nearly cried when, at the hospital, the little guy reached for his cell phone.  He gave it to the child, thinking the child might play with the bright key display and flashy silver case.  The officer said his heart stopped when the child put it in his mouth in an attempt to eat it.

These cases are never easy.  Detectives who do the job of investigating crimes against children have my utmost respect.  Theirs is a job I could not do for fear nightmares would make my nights long and sleepless.

Crimes against children, the most innocent members of our society, will always leave a black hole in the hearts of police.  One cannot investigate allegations of child pornography, child abuse or the homicide of a young child without leaving a piece of yourself behind as penance in memory of a victim.

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