Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Guns, Kids & FL Dept. of Children & Families
As Jeff Gray greeted his son exiting the school bus, he could tell something was up. Soon after, Jeff received a call from Colleen Hagan, who invited herself to his house. It was then that Jeff was told he was under investigation, due to a call made to the hotline for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). The caller – whose identity was kept secret by Colleen – accused Jeff of owning and shooting guns.
Despite being thrown into such an undesirable situation, Jeff, who’s no stranger to making transparent the actions of those who claim to serve and protect, recorded the interaction.
Colleen told Jeff that before she called him, she’d not only visited his son Marcus in middle school, but also went to the nearby elementary school, where she spoke with his two younger children, Melissa and Michael.
Her actions, she justified, were due to a “report generated” by the DCF hotline – a 24/7 that Colleen herself noted was “constantly taking phone calls” about “any concerns.”
Though Colleen attempted to lessen Jeff’s rightful dismay at the situation by differentiating between “good calls” and a “false report,” the full text of that hotline generated report as taken by her colleague, was merely:
Dad has a lot of guns in the house. Dad shoots the guns out back. He has a lot of guns. Police come to the house to see dad and protect Marcus, Melissa, and Michael.
Less than three dozen words were supposedly sufficient to reach the standard of a “good call” and thus grounds for Colleen to act as she did.
Also, Colleen failed to follow up with the local police to see if, in fact, they had ever responded to Jeff’s house due to any firearm-related issue. It seems like that would be a course of action to take prior to talking with Jeff’s kids and showing up at his residence. But then again, Colleen works for a coercion-based monopoly and doesn’t have to satisfy customers so why bother, right?
According to the DFS website:
“Any allegations a child was abused or neglected by a caregiver will be investigated . . . When parents can’t, don’t or won’t protect their children, the Department of Children & Families steps in to help.”
The report cited by Colleen mentioned nothing about abuse or neglect – it only referenced firearms.
Is owning guns a crime? Is it grounds for some unknown bureaucrat to disrupt your children’s lives and perceive you guilty until proven innocent?
Also, Colleen communicated to Jeff that he’d never be told of the callers’ identity – doesn’t he have the right to face his accuser?
As Jeff noted:
“I believe this is a malicious attempt by somebody to harass me because this – baseless allegations that I do not shoot my guns in this neighborhood. I am very safe with my children with the guns. Like I said, they’ve been through the Eddie Eagle course, they know about firearms, and firearms safety. . . And I don’t do anything to endanger my children. And now I’ve got DCF in my house. . . Just because you guys got a 1-800-hotline that somebody can call, and its anonymous, and they can just say whatever they want to.”
What are the ramifications to this inquisition by Colleen, who, though she may claim and actually believe she’s doing noble work, is so perversely incentivized that families like the Gray’s, and according to DCF figures, 15,000-20,000 other families, are investigated each month? Might it be likely that good families aren’t just investigated by their local government agent but in some cases, ripped apart?
Especially when considering that Colleen and her colleagues act with even less accountability and oversight than those folks wearing badges (though, the file-a-form-so-we-can-investigate-ourselves mantra sounds similar).
Do you desire that actors operating in a claimed monopoly (government) provide you with food? Safety? The same inherent faults that would apply to those goods and services apply too to the area of protecting kids.
Yes, it’s desirable that kids not be neglected, but the incentives inherent in the DCF model – a monopolistic structure based on violence – only points to metrics like calls taken and investigated, which fuels mission creep and the harassment of good people, such as Jeff Gray and his family.
Have some thoughts about how this unfolded? Feel free to call Colleen or her supervisor Natolya Ivory:
Natolya Ivory – (904) 797-8100
Colleen Hagan – (904) 955.7670