After the police knocked down a family’s door, officers took three kids from their parents in an overnight raid. All of the children inside the house were then placed in separate foster care homes. When the public learned the reason, authorities quickly fell under scrutiny.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety and the Chandler Police Department in Chandler, Arizona, drew criticism after police conducted an overnight SWAT-team-style raid, where officers knocked down a family’s door and took their children. After being removed, the three kids inside were placed in separate foster homes — but separating the siblings isn’t the biggest reason the response quickly drew scrutiny.
The raid was allegedly conducted all because an unvaccinated toddler had a fever. According to the family, the 2-year-old little boy spiked a fever of 105 degrees. Around dinner time, his pregnant mother took him to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine clinic in Tempe, where the doctor became concerned because the child was unvaccinated.
Fearing he could have life-threatening meningitis, the physician told the mother to take the boy to the emergency room. Although she initially agreed, the unnamed mom changed her mind about taking the boy to the hospital when he began laughing and playing with his siblings after leaving the doctor’s office. She rechecked his temperature and saw that it had allegedly dropped.
With the boy’s temperature returning to close to normal, the mom called the doctor around 6:30 pm and explained that her son was better and that she no longer wanted to take him to the ER, the Arizona Republic reported. Allegedly, the mother also expressed fear of getting in trouble with the Department of Child Safety (DCS) because the child wasn’t vaccinated, but she was assured that wouldn’t be the case.
The unnamed mom reportedly once again agreed to take the toddler to the ER, but after three hours, the hospital called the doctor to report that the child never arrived. When the mother didn’t answer her phone, the doctor called the Department of Child Safety. DCS then called the police, requesting a welfare check on the toddler.
Officers arrived at the family’s home around 10:30 pm and knocked on the door several times, but the parents refused to open it. According to police records, the boy’s father told officers that his son’s “fever broke and he was fine.” DCS then told police they were seeking a “temporary custody notice” from a judge in order to take the sick toddler for emergency medical aid.
The temporary custody order was granted around midnight. “Based upon the court order, the intent of DCS to serve the order, and exigency to ensure the health and welfare of the child, the decision was made to force entry to the home if the parents refused to respond to verbal requests,” the police report read.
After consulting with SWAT and the police criminal investigations bureau, officers returned with a warrant and knocked down the family’s door after 1 am with guns drawn. Surveillance footage, seen below, was released by the father and shows the officers’ use of force. The family’s attorney said such use of force should only be “reserved for violent criminals,” Fox News reported.
Although police admitted there was no “criminal incident” and neither parent was arrested, the Department of Child Safety obtained temporary custody orders for the sick toddler’s two siblings. All three children were removed from the home and placed with separate foster care families while DCS conducted a review of the kids’ grandparents to see if they could be entrusted with the care of the children.
In the meantime, both parents were being forced to undergo psychological evaluations and complete a “family reunification plan” before officials would consider returning their children to them. The case quickly drew outrage from both parents’ advocates and legislators who were furious over the way it was handled. “All because of a fever. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” the family’s attorney said.
“The imagery is horrifying. What has our country become that we can tear down the doorway of a family who has a child with a high fever that disagrees with their doctor?” Republican State Rep. Kelly Townsend said, criticizing the raid. “At that point who now owns control over the child? And it seems like we’ve given that now to the doctor and the parent no longer has the say or they risk the SWAT team taking all of your children and potentially the newborn.”
Lori Ford, a member of a Department of Child Safety watchdog group called Arizona DCS Oversight, also seemed to agree. “They (DCS) had no right to bust into this family’s home and take their kids,” she said. “But now, they (DCS) have control of this family. These children are traumatized, and all over a fever that wasn’t even a fever anymore when they went to the hospital — just like the parents said.”