BOY, 12, PLUCKED FROM DRUG DEN -- AGAIN
Those closest to a shocking drug bust involving an eight-year-old boy dealing crack four years ago are outraged he is among three Calgary children found living in a downtown drug den this week.
On Tuesday, Calgary police raided a Chinatown apartment operating as a drug lab, where children ages eight, 10 and 12 were living.
The children were seized by the Child at Risk Response Team and are in the care of Alberta Children's Services. It's the second time they have been taken away from their parents by child welfare because of drug busts.
Retired Calgary police detective Pat Tetley was there the day the children were seized the first time on Aug. 27, 2002.
The oldest boy was eight years old when he was caught working as a drug mule for a man living with his family.
After welfare services told the family the children would be returned after they severed ties with the boarder, the father told the Herald he was in no rush to get the children back.
Tetley thought that once the province removed the children from the underground drug world, they would be safe.
He didn't count on the children going straight back into the darkness.
"We have let that kid down. As a province and members of the community, we've let him down. Our government agencies aren't providing the same safety net they should be," said Tetley, now a sheriff in Crossfield.
"To think the kid would be returned, you have to ask yourself, 'what chance does this kid have in life now?' He'll make the wrong choices because that's what he's been designed to do."
Tetley said he's never forgotten the case.
"I still have his picture on my wall. I keep it as a reminder for the kids who come through my office."
The children's parents have been charged with drug possession and cultivation after Tuesday's bust. They cannot be named, to protect the identity of their children.
On Tuesday, police searched the family's apartment and seized 52 grams of powder methamphetamine, 19 grams of crack cocaine, 16 grams of marijuana and an undisclosed amount of money.
Equipment for manufacturing crack was also found, said Staff Sgt. Monty Sparrow.
"Unbelievable. It doesn't shock me. The rate of recidivism for a drug dealer is just about 100 per cent," said Tetley.
"The cycle will continue. This is what dad was doing for a living, you want to emulate what your dad does, he's successful, that's what happens. You look at your parents for guidance and direction."
When the children were seized the first time, everybody was surprised, said Tetley.
Now children are being found living with drug dealers and in grow ops more often.
Between November and the end of March, 25 Alberta children were found in drug houses and taken away from their parents temporarily under the new Drug Endangered Children's Act.
Thirteen of them were seized in the Calgary area.
"More and more often, kids are seeing this in their own homes. They're exposed to it every day," said Tetley.
But removing the children twice for the same danger is raising questions about the province: Did a system designed to protect children fail?
"When these agencies put them back in the same environment, we're not doing ourselves any favours," said Tetley.
Alberta Children's Services says that if parents comply with conditions and prove they can care for the children, the children are returned.
"Just because we've been involved with a family in the past, we don't have the authority to go and check up on the family without just cause," said Blair Riddle, spokesman for Alberta Children's Services.
"If the terms have been fulfilled, the children are returned and that's the end of it. Unless there's another call that brings our attention to that family, we don't have legal authority to go check on that family. We don't have ongoing involvement unless we have legal authority."
"It's not uncommon to see we have multiple involvements with some families."
A 50-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman are charged with possession of cocaine, methamphetamine, proceeds of crime and marijuana production.
The parents are facing charges under the Drug Endangered Children's Act. Their names can't be published, in order to protect the identity of the children.
Fri, 27 Apr 2007
Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Calgary Herald