Brunswick News. May 20, 2023.
Editorial: Foster care issues warrant more than committees
A state Senate study committee that is about to launch a probe into Georgia’s troubled foster care system will likely discover that its effort to ascertain what ails the program will involve more than flipping through A, B and C. Members should be prepared to sift through the entire alphabet.
It may even take it longer than the seven months remaining before the 2024 session of the General Assembly opens to be in a qualified position to offer the Division of Family & Children Services of the Georgia Department of Human Services any advice worthy of consideration. Children are the target of concern, after all. It would be a disservice to all to rush into anything vague or disjointed.
With roughly 11,000 children in foster care on any given day in the state, it is almost a forgone conclusion that over-worked directors and staff would appreciate any sensible and viable input or advice state politicians have to offer.
Dealing with children from broken and unstable homes and environments is a tough job. Moms and dads who devote their lives to their sons and daughters can hardly imagine what it is like. Thankfully, there are men and women in this state capable of dedicating themselves to boys and girls who need permanent or temporary rescue.
The Senate Study Committee on Foster Care and Adoption was created by a Senate resolution this past legislative session. Eight members were appointed to the committee, which will be chaired by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta. The study committee is expected to make recommendations during the 2024 session of the General Assembly on how the state can improve the system.
That is quite a tall order. It is given all the troubles ruffling the system, including its large number of clients. Finding good homes for every foster child, an adult volunteer who is willing to care for them, continues to be a major issue. It leaves the state agency little choice but to quarter the overflow of children in hotel rooms. The fact that it spent $28 million on hotels last year alone shows just how serious a problem it is.
There are other issues, including caseworkers failing to properly respond to reports of child abuse in a timely manner or in any manner.
The foster care problem needs more than a study committee. It needs adults who care enough about children to lend a hand where one is sorely needed and more caseworkers to watch over them.
Valdosta Daily Times. May 19, 2023.
Editorial: Body cameras good for policing
Every time we cover a violent crime, shooting incident or other dangerous situation involving public safety personnel, we are reminded just how dangerous their jobs really are.
Many times the dangerous situations are caught on camera, and that is good for everyone — both the police and the policed.
Each day, police officers and first responders face dangers that most of us will never will face in our lifetimes.
A routine traffic stop or just showing up at the scene in response to a domestic violence call can turn tragic in an instant.
We should all thank them for their service and respect the jobs they do to help keep us all safe.
We are not saying there are not bad cops.
And, when bad cops do bad things it reflects poorly on all of them. Every officer and deputy who is doing right things in right ways rightly resents those who are abusing the badge.
For many years, we have championed police body cameras. We are fortunate that in our jurisdiction body cameras are commonly worn.
We have consistently said that those cameras should be turned on and recording every single interaction between law enforcement personnel and the public.
We also strongly believe those recordings are public records and should be made available to the public in a timely fashion.
While camera footage helps hold law enforcement personnel accountable for their actions, the recordings also serve to protect and defend the officers themselves.
If police officers, sheriff’s deputies or detectives are falsely accused, the footage can prove their innocence.
While the state of Georgia and the courts have not yet clearly defined exactly when body camera footage should be made available to the public, we believe that it should be viewed in exactly the same way initial police reports are handled.
Initial incident reports must be available to the press and the public as soon as they have been processed. Camera footage is the purest form of an initial report.
We wanted to write about this again when there is not a current situation begging for the release of body camera footage so authorities can consider the importance of this issue in a dispassionate way.
In instances across the nation where there have been bad interactions with the police, public outrage has been exasperated by long delays in releasing body cam footage.
While state laws and the courts may not yet be requiring recordings to be released immediately, it is in the strong public interest to do so in almost every case.