CHRIS POWELL: Connecticut must examine causes of its social collapse

Published on Wednesday, 14 July 2021 20:08

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life," Oscar Wilde wrote. But sometimes it's awful both ways.

Many years ago an episode of the television drama series "Law and Order" showed police detectives entering a dingy New York City apartment where an abandoned baby was crying. The detective played by Jerry Orbach remarked: "How about if I just take him to Rikers now?"

Of course Rikers is the city prison on Rikers Island, but the detective's remark wasn't just bitter cynicism. For "Law and Order" scripts often were inspired by actual criminal cases, and real life continues to provide similar cases, not only in New York but in Connecticut's cities as well. Take the case in New Haven last month.

According to the New Haven Register, police with a search warrant broke into a house in pursuit of a man wanted for a gun crime. The suspect fled through a window. Inside the house a red laser beam was pointed at the officers. It came from the gunsight of a loaded pistol held by a 2-year-old boy.

The officers safely got the gun away from the boy. They also found a woman who lives in the house, who told them that the man they sought must have put the gun under a pillow near the boy before escaping. A search of the house discovered heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

The man who fled was caught nearby and he and the woman were booked on drug, gun, interfering, and risk-of-injury charges. The man already has at least one felony conviction. The state Department of Children and Families placed the 2-year-old with "another woman," presumably a relative.

Since state government policy makes Connecticut's cities “concentration camps” for the poor, uneducated, dysfunctional, and disturbed and enslaves the cities to the government employee unions, the cities are impossible to govern well. New Haven isn't helped by the "woke" intellectuals associated with Yale University, who, as the bullets fly around them and the city's murder rate runs two-thirds ahead of last year's, busy themselves with how city policy can avert climate change.

Even so, Mayor Justin Elicker's remarks on the case of the armed 2-year-old were hapless if not pathetic. After praising the police for their courage and restraint, the mayor said the city is promoting safe gun storage and gun buybacks – as if criminals give a hoot about those things and as if those things have any bearing on the social disintegration that has made New Haven and other cities ungovernable.

That's why the couple arrested here aren't so important. They are probably long lost causes already. But the life of the 2-year-old isn't ruined yet. What will become of him?

The Department of Children and Families sometimes does work as heroic as police work. But the public seldom has any way of knowing what the department does in particular cases, since nearly everything is kept secret.

The department's goal with abused and neglected children is almost always "family reunification," on the premise that children grow up best with blood relatives if not their parents. When family reunification seems too dangerous for a child, the department arranges foster placements and adoptions.

But particular cases are always a judgment call for the department – a call that permits no outside evaluation, except when a child is killed and the state child advocate investigates and reports publicly.

This isn't good enough amid the generational poverty long manufactured by Connecticut's welfare, education, and urban policies. Under current rules there can be no independent follow-up on the 2-year-old who was living in a drug den and pointed a loaded pistol at police officers as if it was a toy.

DCF will do whatever it will do with the boy, Connecticut will hope for the best – and city and inner-suburb demographics will keep getting worse.

So more than legal marijuana, expanded gambling, faster commuter trains, better-funded government employee pensions, road and bridge maintenance, politically correct high school athletic mascots, and declaring pizza the official state food, Connecticut needs to find out:

Where are all the messed-up kids coming from?

That requires ending the secrecy of both child protection and juvenile court and enabling and undertaking legislative and journalistic investigation.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. 

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Wednesday, 14 July 2021 20:08. Updated: Wednesday, 14 July 2021 20:11.