November 9, 2010

"He asked if he could be a part of our religion for a day, just so he could see my face, just so he could go back (to the police station) and say, 'no it wasn't Elizabeth Smart.'"

Elizabeth Smart testified about the time a police officer, deferential to religion, missed saving her.

42 comments:

Richard Dolan said...

The time when "a police officer, deferential to religion, missed saving here"?

More like the time when she missed saving herself. Understandable since she was 14 at the time. But it's hard to critize the officer if the girl says nothing during an interchange where the officer says he is looking for her and uses her name. Her silence, in a situation where a hostage might well be expected to react in some fashion, may have been what got the officer to drop it.

Dead Julius said...

Click the "TIMELINE" on the left at the link and read it.

Total incompetence at every turn!

First they suspected the father, Ed Smart, forcing him to take a lie detector.

Then they suspected the "drifter" Bret Michael Edmunds, whose name will forever be tarnished since the investigators essentially told all of America that he was the one who kidnapped Elizabeth.

Then they suspected Richard Albert Ricci. They arrest him for theft in July and by the end of August he has collapsed in his jail cell (beat by the police, ya' think?). He's put on life support and dies a few days later. His wife says that the stress of being wrongly linked to Elizabeth's abduction killed him; the police and prosecutors and media all laugh at her statement, content in the knowledge that the terrible abductor is now dead.

But then Elizabeth is found... eventually... with this dude Mitchell. Perhaps the police office who backed off and didn't take a look at Elizabeth's face did so partly because they were so convinced that they already had their guy-- either the father, or Edmunds, or Ricci.

Ann Althouse said...

@Richard Dolan You're blaming the terrified child?

Shanna said...

Her silence, in a situation where a hostage might well be expected to react in some fashion, may have been what got the officer to drop it.

She was a terrified 14 year old who was kidnapped and threatened with death. The officer was an adult with a badge and a gun. It is just CRAZY to me that he thought that was her, clearly, enough to go through all that ridiculous bargaining about pretending to be whatever religion they claimed to be to get a look at her face, and let her go.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You're blaming the terrified child?


That's a tough one. Each person has a different way of coping with traumatic situations. Some people will be meek and not try to save themselves. Others will go to any lengths to get out of the situation that they find themselves in.

I don't think you can 'blame' Elizabeth for being one of the meek, but you certainly cannot blame the police officer for his lack of extra effort when she didn't extend much on her own behalf.

We just had a situation in our area where a 14 year old girl took charge of an entire busload of other children in an accident where the bus driver was killed along with the people in the truck who collided with the bus. This 'child' organized the other children and got them out of the bus, past the dead bodies. Organized them on the side of the road, had other classmates take care of the injured children and used a cell phone to call for help. While other children are screaming, crying and in shock....one child rose to the challenge.

This isn't something you are taught. It is who you are. Elizabeth Smart dealt with her situation in the way that she IS. No blame. It just is.

Richard Dolan said...

Anne: Am I blaming the child-victim? No. Her reaction was understandable (as I said, because of her age) but unfortunate. And in all events, it's not a question of blame but of missed opportunities.

The article suggested that the officer missed an opportunity to rescue the girl by being too deferential to an odd religious claim. I suspect that the more important fact was that the girl said nothing during the exchange, and the circumstances of the encounter -- in a public library! -- don't fit well with the crime of kidnapping.

From the description, the officer was reluctant to accept the religious claim. Had the girl reacted at all during the interchange where the officer made it clear he was trying to find (and rescue) her, the officer may well have taken a different course. But it was not to be.

Shanna said...

Elizabeth Smart dealt with her situation in the way that she IS. No blame. It just is.

She had been kidnapped for months already when this incident happened. From a survival standpoint, she may have known she was physically safe, if not free, as long as she stayed quiet. Her calling out to the officer was an unknown that could have gone the other way, resulting in her own death and possibly his. It seems like this "i'll kill you if you run away/make a sound/whatever" is a common kidnapper threat that is quite effective because the possibility exists that he will. It's a judgement call that I don't want to second guess, not having been there.

The office though...he so CLEARLY thought that was her or he would have let it go at first pass. He should have listened to his instincts.

enki said...

Had that happened today, and had it been an innocent family of people belonging to a religion that has its women wear veils, it seems as if that officer would have been getting himself into trouble. I thought this discussion would head in that direction.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It's a judgement call that I don't want to second guess, not having been there.

Me either. However, I suspect that I would not have remained mute in the public library situation.

The office though...he so CLEARLY thought that was her or he would have let it go at first pass. He should have listened to his instincts.


You won't make a judgement call on Elizabeth, yet you have no hesitation judging what the Officer should have done.

Lem said...

You're blaming the terrified child?

I recall growing up and taught to be differential towards adults.. all adults.

Of course the idea of kidnapping a child in the Dominican Republic in the 70's would have been highly irregular.

But I can empathise with Elisabeth to some extent.

In fact I recall as an 8 or 9 years old going to the barber by myself and being asked by the barber repeatedly to give up my turn.. it seemed the right thing to do at the time.

I even recall the man having something to eat before he finally cut my hair.

My stepmother was upset with me thinking I had not come straight home, but had been playing or whatever.

dbp said...

The girl was scared, but she never gave up hope.

"The following day, Mitchell forced Smart to metaphorically sever any remaining ties with her family by burning the red pajamas she had been wearing on the night she was taken.

Smart said she dropped the pajamas into a campfire and watched them burn. Afterward, she found in the ashes a safety pin that she had used to keep the neck of the pajamas closed. She fastened it to a small piece of rubber from her tennis shoes - which Mitchell had thrown out - and hid it."

dbp said...

What I wonder is if the officer was being deferential out of respect for an odd religion or because he might be disciplined if his suspicion proved to be wrong.

Lem said...

..a religion that has its women wear veils, it seems as if that officer would have been getting himself into trouble. I thought this discussion would head in that direction.

I don't want to get blown up ;)

Lem said...

Most likely the latter dbp.

Utah is religion country.

Shanna said...

I don't disagree, but like I said, without having been in that situation, at that age, I think it's tough to judge. And we don't know that that guy wouldn't have killed her. He sounds crazy as hell.

You won't make a judgement call on Elizabeth, yet you have no hesitation judging what the Officer should have done.

I'm not saying he's a horrible person, just that he should have listened to his instincts. But the officer was an adult and should have had some sort of experience with criminals. It just bugs me because he had good instincts, he didn't just think the situation was fishy, he thought the girl was Elizabeth! And it was! I mean, A+ on the instincts; not so much on execution. If the guy wouldn't let her take off her veil, couldn't the policeman have tried to talk to her one on one? It sounds like the Mitchell guy was blocking her.

Shanna said...

Whoops, DBQ. I meant to respond to your point about being in a library and speaking out, but I cut out the quote.

I'm sort of fascinated by instincts and when people chose to ignore them, so I'm not meaning to be extra harsh on the officer, I just think he made a mistake.

Lem said...

Hiding her in "plain sight" connotes a kind of depravity to me.

Its too bad he wont get the death penalty.

Jason said...

Elizabeth Smart is a great, great warrior.

PatCA said...

What jumps out at me is that the detective's political correctness trumped his instinct and sense of duty. It's the first step to something very, very bad.

In the posts about the fatal handshake and the fatwa in Pakistan, we see the end game.

HKatz said...

We just had a situation in our area where a 14 year old girl took charge of an entire busload of other children in an accident where the bus driver was killed along with the people in the truck who collided with the bus.

It's great that this girl you're describing handled it all, and there are definitely individual differences in how children would react as you pointed out with the other children crying... but it's difficult to compare Smart's case to this immediate reaction to an accident.

When Smart was initially kidnapped, if I remember right, she was kept in a more secluded camp site and tethered. She was also regularly raped and threatened with death. This went on for months. Maybe early on, if she had encountered the officer, she would have spoken up. But after months of this kind of physical and mental torment - it changes a person too. (This is not to say that there aren't other kids who would have spoken up to the police officer months after their abduction... but that sort of prolonged abduction changes you, you retreat into yourself, you're terrified and it can wear down even people who are initially strong.)

Revenant said...

What was the cop supposed to do? Rip off her veil?

sunsong said...

Living in Utah, this became a community nightmare. My nephew, nine at the time, confessed that he was frightened sometimes going to bed. What if he was kidnapped?

Early on, I attended a vigil in Liberty Park where we all prayed for her and her family. Hundreds were there. So many, many people gave up days and hours to go into the hills and search for her. It was a wonderful shock when she was found alive. An ending that many had given up hope for.

All these kind of tragedies are hard to know about, I think. It is hard to know how much she went through.

I don't know anyone that thinks Mitchell is insane! I surely don't. But either way, it is obvious that he is danger to others.

traditionalguy said...

Awareness that there are evil men that are smart enough to hide child enslavement abuse in plain sight from the community is depressing. The lesson here is always be suspicious that girls under 16 and hid away are being abused, no matter how normal the Adults act. I am serious.

Shanna said...

What was the cop supposed to do? Rip off her veil?

I dont' know, maybe insist on speaking to her? Call in additional cops? Bring the whole family down to the station until he was shown proof that she was his daughter, and not Elizabeth Smart? I realize all these things could have been bad for the cop, but leaving her with these people was far worse for Elizabeth. If he had pushed enough, he probably could have spared her months of agony.

The Crack Emcee said...

Hanging out with children, and touching them when you're not supposed to - because of your religion?

This is not The Macho Response.

Freeman Hunt said...

If the child remained silent, wouldn't that be more suspicious than if she had spoken?

I wouldn't care if he'd ripped off her veil. He's looking for a missing child, and for some odd reason, a girl said to look like her is not allowed to show her face? AND she's not saying anything? C'mon!

roesch-voltaire said...

I blame the culture of Utah where various religious sects and practices seem to be considered protected or outside of state interference. We want no separation of church and yet when the state wants to perform its duties.....well that is another matter.

Beth said...

a girl said to look like her is not allowed to show her face? AND she's not saying anything? C'mon!

Freeman nails it.

Revenant said...

I dont' know, maybe insist on speaking to her?

According to the story she was sitting right there.

Revenant said...

a girl said to look like her is not allowed to show her face?

She was wearing a robe and a veil. How much can a woman in a robe and a veil "look like" someone?

AND she's not saying anything? C'mon!

Not saying anything would be evidence that she WASN'T Elizabeth Smart. I know, I know, she was only 14 -- but not speaking up was a dumb move.

Methadras said...

Stockholm syndrome is one hell of drug. I don't blame the young Elizabeth, but the detective is clearly a moron and didn't do his job.

Methadras said...

PatCA said...

What jumps out at me is that the detective's political correctness trumped his instinct and sense of duty. It's the first step to something very, very bad.

In the posts about the fatal handshake and the fatwa in Pakistan, we see the end game.


And that's how the Muslims and Islam wins. Fuck PC. It will continue to cause and has caused the death of millions. Enough already. Eradicate this deadly form of anti-communication from the lexicon of a free and right thinking society. Death to PC, death to Islam for using it against us.

Methadras said...

sunsong said...

I don't know anyone that thinks Mitchell is insane! I surely don't. But either way, it is obvious that he is danger to others.


It doesn't matter if he is insane or not, he should be put down for the sake of society. We are to lax on those that prey on our children.

AllenS said...

The wearing of a veil in this country should be outlawed.

Shanna said...

According to the story she was sitting right there.

Sitting right there, with the guy who kidnapped her and raped her blocking her from the policeman and his accomplice wife sitting next to her, grabbing her to tell her not to speak. He could have taken her away from the guy for a brief period of time to speak with her privately, which would have violated no stupid supposed religious vows. There are things he could have done but he let it go.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

He could have taken her away from the guy for a brief period of time to speak with her privately, which would have violated no stupid supposed religious vows. There are things he could have done but he let it go.

It seems that you people want it both ways...no you want it ALL ways. And you want it in hind sight.

We can't blame Smart for not talking because we don't know what was going on in her mind, she might have Stockholm syndrome, she just didn't do anything at that moment to save herself.

YET....you want to blame the cop for not aggressively taking a child away from what, as far as he knows, are her parents or relatives.

You bitch and moan about religious freedom and the rights of the individual. YET....you blame the cop for NOT acting like a Nazi in this situation.

If he HAD done those things, ripped of the veil, forcibly taken a child from adult guardians or parents and it turned out they were just innocent Muslims or some other religious group.....you people would be screaming like stuck pigs about his lack of sensitivity and violition of their rights.

Sheesh. The police just can't win in this situation with you people can they? It's a wonder that anyone would want to be a police officer in this overly sensitive politically correct world where they are expected to be Rambo and guidance counselors and mind readers all at the same time.

Do I wish that he might have acted in an 'un-politically correct' way and shortened Smart's terrible ordeal. Sure. But he didn't and in reality and within the law.....he couldn't.

I don't blame Smart for her LACK of actions and I certainly don't blame the police either. They are just has hampered from being effective by the overly politically correct atmosphere that many of you promote as was Smart by her abused mental state.

Freeman Hunt said...

She was wearing a robe and a veil. How much can a woman in a robe and a veil "look like" someone?

Apparently a lot since the officer approached them because someone said she looked like Elizabeth Smart and she was Elizabeth Smart!

Shanna said...

Exactly, Freeman. The policeman so CLEARLY thought that was Elizabeth Smart. Enough to volunteer to convert to whatever the hell religion that guy was for a day, just so he could see her and make sure that she wasn't. His instincts were excellent and right on the money. It is political correctness, DBQ, that made him not pursue it!

It's a wonder that anyone would want to be a police officer in this overly sensitive politically correct world where they are expected to be Rambo and guidance counselors and mind readers all at the same time.

People go into law enforcement to help enforce the laws, no? To help, among other things, find missing children who are being abused. He found one and he didn't do anything about it because he was afraid of hurting feelings or being reprimanded. Whatever the reason is that he didn't listen to his instincts, we need to change that, because it was wrong. I've told you already, I dont' think he's a horrible person for this, but he could have made a better choice. I don't see how you can deny that. Yes, it's hindsight somewhat, but in hindsight can't we still say that he made the wrong decision?

And I haven't seen anyone say that it would have been terrible for him to at least VERIFY that this was there child, and not Elizabeth Smart. Would it have scarred a child forever if it hadn't been Elizabeth, if he had asked to speak to her briefly away from her "father"? I can see no way that it would.

Shanna said...

their child. Gah!

Jason said...

I blame Mitchell.

holdfast said...

"Then they suspected the "drifter" Bret Michael Edmunds"

His name was already forever tarnished by "Rock of Love". Oh that was Bret Michaels? Never mind.

Seriously though - first instinct was to suspect the father, because of course all men are abusers of their daughters.

PatCA said...

DBQ, a friend of mine is an ex-cop, and believe me they know they are always guilty before proving their innocence. Look at the media stories about police incidents: it's always framed as Mad Dog Cop shoots Unarmed Youngster. Then it turns out he was 16 and was driving his car into the officer.

My friend would never join now. Too depressing.

And that's why this officer drew back with Elizabeth, I would guess.