FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
December 2018 (1)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (3)
August 2018 (6)
July 2018 (4)
June 2018 (3)
April 2018 (1)
March 2018 (2)
January 2018 (1)
September 2017 (1)
August 2017 (1)
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (1)
January 2017 (1)
November 2016 (1)
September 2016 (1)
June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (2)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (3)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

Child's Play: Lessons From a Decades-Old Murder

Many minors don't realize their rights to report abuse, so let them know when you get the chance.

February 18, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

Mike and I were walking home from school the first time I heard him call his mom a "bitch." Still a couple of years shy of junior high, I was shocked by his choice of words.

"What did you call her?"

"A bitch," Mike said. "I hate her. You want to see what she did to me?"

Before I could answer, Mike turned away from me and lifted his shirt.

A mosaic of serpentine swaths curled from one of Mike's flanks to the other, each extreme punctuated by black and blue bruises in the shape of a belt buckle. I'd been spanked many times and deservedly so for the most part. But never before had I seen the likes of Mike's back, and how my fifth-grade peer could have warranted such punishment was beyond my imagination.

When Mike turned back to face me, his face was beet red.

"One of these days," he said, pulling his shirt back down, "I'm going to kill her."

Mike and I had never been the closest of friends, but I felt for him and would never look at him again without thinking about the bruises and wondering what new horrors might be found about his body.

Years passed, and Mike had pretty much fallen off my radar by the time a high school acquaintance flagged me down in a school hallway.

"Did you hear about Mike? He killed his mom!"

The body of Mike's mother had been found on their kitchen floor. She'd been stabbed 51 times, and it didn't take long for Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputies to take 16-year-old Mike into custody for her murder.

In time, it would become fashionable for defendants to offer "burning bed" defenses, mitigating stories of horrors that, if they did not absolve the defendants, at least offered some context for their crimes. Mike didn't have the benefit of such a defense. At some level I found myself understanding of Mike's actions. However, Mike would have been better served by the state's absolution than mine.

To this day I wonder why I never said anything to anyone about the abuse he'd suffered. I suppose part of my reticence was out of the belief that I was somehow respecting Mike's confidence.

But at least as much was due to my ignorance of the law; I was only a couple years off of getting robbed by assholes on a daily basis myself. I suspect most kids knew not to take rides or candy from strangers, but otherwise had little clue as to what age children have a legal standing to be a victim of any type of crime, let alone what interventions might have been called upon on their or someone else's behalf.

I got to thinking about Mike the other day when I heard about the boy who'd been kicked, punched, and hung upside down atop a fence by some bullies.

A passerby intervened, enabling the victim to get home. But it was the assholes' own idiocy that found them getting caught, thanks to their having videotaped the beating and putting it up on Facebook. In the absence of such evidence, one might reasonably wonder what would have happened to the kid the next time he crossed paths with the bullies.

True, there are some safeguards in place. School administrators are taught to recognize signs of abuse and to report them. If they see a kid getting jacked for his lunch money, they'll (usually) intervene. But these measures are not enough and some things fly below the radar.

I suspect that there are many kids today who are as clueless as I was in my youth, that don't know of their rights in the world, of their reasonable expectations not to be abused by family or strangers, or that they have advocates who would come to their aid.

Cops routinely interact with kids through a variety of youth oriented programs such as DARE, gang resistant training, Explorer academies, summer youth leagues, etc. Such programs encourage kids to do the right thing, and resist the wrong, but they also avail cops the opportunity to educate kids on matters that often get glossed over in classrooms.

If you're not already doing so, the next time that you're doing the cop in the classroom thing, or speaking at a school assembly, please take the time to talk with kids about the fact that they have the right to grow up unmolested in every sense of the word.

I wish someone had told me.

More than that, I wish someone had told Mike.

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Foot and Hoof Patrol: Meaningfully Connecting Cops and Citizens
Foot patrol is the essence of community policing—officers on foot create opportunities for...
Arrive Alive: Police Must Reduce Single-Vehicle Crashes on Patrol
Too many officers are driving themselves into their graves—turning their cars into their...

Police Magazine