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Why We Love This Place Wednesdays: Adult Protective Services

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

By Terra Avilla

What a whirlwind of a week! The past seven days of work were filled with a lot. A lot of stuff. The type of stuff that makes you proud to be a police officer because it’s the stuff that makes you feel like you are making the world a better place – but also the type of stuff that makes you sad at your very core that it happens in the first place.

This past week my partner and I responded to a call for service that had so many moving parts, that it was difficult to keep track of what had occurred and what to do next. However, I can tell you that, once again, the unsung hero of my week was one of our county’s Social Workers.

Now, I know that you are probably thinking that I already wrote about how great our county’s Social Workers are. And yes. You are correct. Last month, I did write an article about our wonderful Child and Family Service Department, however, there are so many other types of social workers in our county fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Yes, we have CFS, and yes, we have the wonderful workers at Wrap Around. (On a side note, Amy Moore is also with Wrap Around and she is awesome and a hero in her own right), but we also have our Adult Protective Services or APS social workers who sometimes fly under the radar but do so, so much of the same divine work.

This last week, APS, without a doubt, was my idol. Child abuse gets a lot of attention. Children are so little and tiny and innocent, we as a society, have this innate reaction to want to help and support those who are helping our community’s children. We are eager to report suspected abuse, and eager to want to help in any way we can.

The elderly or dependent adults are just as vulnerable and just as worthy of our help, but sometimes the crimes against them often don’t generate that much awareness or ‘buzz.’

Sometimes, well-meaning people have no idea they are observing signs of elder abuse because it is not as obvious or as socially discussed as the need/requirements of child abuse reporting.

Some of the most gut-wrenching cases I have seen have not been child abuse, but have been elder abuse cases. It really makes me appreciate those who choose to defend them. Those who choose to go into homes and detail multi-layered financial crimes against dependent adults, or choose to tackle a case where a victim has dementia.

Those social workers know that their victim isn’t going to grow up to lead a healthy long life because of the social worker’s intervention. They know that their victim isn’t going to be cured of their Alzheimer’s and be able to one day give an immaculate articulation of who is hurting them. They know their victim isn’t going to write them from their high school graduation thanking them for their help. They know this. And still, they persist in helping.

I have worked several cases concurrently with APS. Some were when I received the referral from APS and other times, I initiated the investigation. I will never forget the first time I got a report written by Vina Jimenez, one of their workers. I sat the 200-page report on my desk and flipped through it. I was shocked at the amount of work, detail and articulation included in the report. That sort of pristine product doesn’t happen by accident. That sort of work happens when you care about your job.

It’s actually what happens when you look at them as families and people and not as cases.

This past week Stephanie Bennett responded to one of my scenes and she had a soothing effect on the individual I called her to see, but also on me. She was respectful and empathetic, the exact type of person I would want taking care of someone I love. She stood there with me helping me figure out what would be the best move for the individual involved and I was so thankful that as law enforcement, I didn’t have to figure this out on my own.

The fact is guys – we are so lucky to have all of the social workers we have. Whether it be CFS, Wrap Around or APS. They deserve to be written about every week, and I am so, so sorry it took me this long to write about the wonderful hearts at APS, because they are truly so many of the reasons I love the place we live.

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