The CPS Effect: Discrimination Against Police, First Responders By Family Courts & Child Protective Services

Dion McNeil

The Daily Counter investigated discrimination against Former, Retired, and Current Law Enforcement Officers, First Responders, and Emergency Personnel. The same Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can be used against US Military Veterans is often used against Law Enforcement Officers. Some of these brave men and women are subjected to stereotypes about traumatic experiences that cause PTSD. Current Law Enforcement, First Responders, and Emergency Personnel have to work long hours which means that there is less consideration given to those individuals for sole custody versus a spouse who doesn’t work as long on the daily.

What Is The CPS Effect?

The victims involved in this CPS-driven ring fit into certain categories.

They are as follow:

  1. Immigrants (Easy targets for child removal since some of these people are sometimes undocumented and/or do not speak English)
  2. The Poor (Since these cases often hit Family Courts lawyers are not appointed. This means that the poor are disproportionately affected by poor legal representation.)
  3. The Mentally-Ill (Self-Explanatory)
  4. Military Veterans/Police Officers/First-Responders (This fits into category #3 but this is a special case. Since PTSD diagnosis has been used in Family Court decisions it is more likely that the people who occupy or have occupied these professions will have their PTSD used against them.)
  5. The Peacefully Disobedient (If a person ever publicly criticizes a judge, CPS, a court or a politician linked to a judge or government agency that person runs the risk of retaliation via CPS or Family Courts.)

Law Enforcement, First Responders & Family Court, CPS Discrimination

Police Officers and First Responders can often have difficulties navigating U.S. Family Courts and Child Protective Services. First responder marriages end earlier than average marriage. There are a few obvious reasons for the short term marriages.

Drafting a parenting plan for child custody disputes can prove to be difficult for a police officer/first responder due to unpredictable work schedules. Police officers as Family Court litigants are often discriminated against due to a PTSD diagnosis, negative societal views, and other factors. The work schedules of police/first responders can be used as a reason to limit visitation if there are any conflicts with the other litigant’s home or work schedule.

Litigants who hold/have held jobs in these professions can exhibit mental health concerns due to disturbing situations (first responders) and gun violence (law enforcement officers). As a result, there have been situations where exposure to these situations has been used against law enforcement officers and first responders in Family Court.

Mental Health

If a PTSD diagnosis can affect a custody decision involving a U.S. war veteran then that sort of Family Court treatment can affect a first responder the same way. Some people view police officers as agents of the State which is the same way those people see military veterans. Some of those people who feel that way about police officers and veterans could become a lawyer, judge or court official.

The CDC stated that law enforcement officers and first responders are at a greater risk than the general public (barring prior or current military service members) to develop conditions such as PTSD. The same PTSD that can affect a U.S. war veteran can also affect a police officer. Often, that PTSD is used against law enforcement and first responders.

Often, Family Courts violate The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA-Federal Law) to utilize PTSD diagnoses against litigants. The ADA has its own Federally Funded website where they discuss the practice of premature child separation based on mental disorders such as PTSD. Many times, this Family Court and Child Protective Services discrimination is based on stereotypes:

“Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)2 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)3 protect parents and prospective parents with disabilities from unlawful discrimination in the administration of child welfare programs, activities, and services.4  At the same time, child welfare agencies and courts have the responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect.  The goals of child welfare and disability non-discrimination are mutually attainable and complementary. For example, ensuring that parents and prospective parents with disabilities have equal access to parenting opportunities increases the opportunities for children to be placed in safe and caring homes.
According to a comprehensive 2012 report from the National Council on Disability (NCD), parents with disabilities are overly, and often inappropriately, referred to child welfare services, and once involved, are permanently separated at disproportionately high rates.6  In a review of research studies and other data, NCD concluded that among parents with disabilities, parents with intellectual disabilities and parents with psychiatric disabilities face the most discrimination based on stereotypes, lack of individualized assessments, and failure to provide needed services.”

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has researched law enforcement officers who suffer from job-related PTSD.

Quoted from NIJ:

“This emphasis on health and wellness builds on earlier NIJ studies, such as a 1996 project to develop a law enforcement stress program for officers and their families. That report, based on nearly 100 interviews with mental health experts, police administrators, and officers, provided “pragmatic suggestions that can help every police or sheriff’s department reduce the debilitating stress that so many officers experience.”

A 2000 NIJ-supported project looked at the high stress among corrections officers and noted that, in addition to understaffing, overtime, shiftwork, and a poor public image, the officers faced work-related stress that included the “threat of inmate violence and actual inmate violence.” The report said that many corrections officers “do not answer their home telephones because it might be the institution calling for overtime.”

In 2005, the Police Foundation focused on how shift work affects police officers, which continues to be a serious issue throughout law enforcement. That NIJ-supported study looked at the length of shifts, the impact of double shifts, and other factors that lead to fatigue and physical problems for law enforcement personnel.

A 2012 NIJ-supported study on shiftwork and fatigue concluded that shiftwork not only increases stress but also leads to sleep problems, obesity, heart problems, sleep apnea, and an increase in the number of officers who snore. That study, by John Violanti with the School of Public Health at the State University of New York at Buffalo, also found a link between PTSD and increased rates of depression and suicide. “Mediation of brain processes due to sleep deprivation and fatigue may also impact suicidal thinking,” Violanti’s report said.”

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Much of the same stereotypes and stigma related to PTSD that U.S. military veterans face are the same stereotypes and stigma directed at law enforcement officers. As the NIJ stated, many officers are at an increased risk of depression and suicide because of their work or past work. Very little consideration is given to the many officers who end up in Family Courts.

It can be harder for a hardened SWAT team member with several confirmed kills under their belt to convince a Family Court Judge that they are more suited as a sole custodian of a child versus someone who is a basket weaver. If a former Police Officer loses custody of a child or doesn’t see their child as often as they’d like then perhaps this could be a contributing factor in some of the suicide statistics involving Law Enforcement Officers.

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There are stories out there that show the discrimination a former or current police officer or first responder can face due to a work-related mental disability.

For example, The National Council on Disability wrote a piece showing the story of a quadriplegic former Police Officer named Paul.

Quoted from the NCD:

“Cases frequently reflect underlying presumptions that it is not in a child’s best interest to live with—or in some cases even visit—a parent with a disability.[551] Custody and visitation decisions also reflect patterns of increased attitudinal bias regarding certain disabilities.[552] Kirshbaum, Taube, and Baer found that “negative speculations about the future are common and often seem to be based on stereotypes rather than on evidence.”[553] Furthermore, courts often assume that children will be forced to provide care to their parents with physical disabilities, which is in stark contrast to what researchers have consistently found.[554]
Paul’s story demonstrates the gravity of the situation faced by many parents with disabilities who are involved in the family law system.[555] Paul was a father with quadriplegia and a stay-at-home parent for his three-year-old son Leo. He had spent 20 years as a police officer and became a quadriplegic when he was shot on the job. Although Paul used walking canes, his active son was safe in his care. He had door alarms on the doors and bookcases in case Leo tried to climb or leave the house. An ingeniously installed alarm system triggered if Leo tried to leave the yard. Leo had never been hurt or gotten away as a result of Paul’s disability. Then Leo’s mother filed for divorce, moved out, and filed for full physical custody. She asserted that quadriplegia rendered Paul unable to care for Leo.
Despite uncontested testimony that Paul had always been the primary parent, the Georgia family law court awarded temporary custody to the mother, with severely limited visitation to Paul. Twenty-four-hour supervision was required during the visitation periods, and Paul was ordered to hire a professional nanny to supervise visitations. Over the next two years of litigation, Paul went through a significant portion of his disability retirement fund paying for attorneys, private nannies, interim child support, and assessments.
He and his attorney concluded that the only way to show parental capacity was with an Adapted Baby Care Assessment. No occupational therapist was able to assess their area, so a therapist from TLG flew to Georgia, conducted the assessment, completed and submitted a court report, and appeared in court to defend it at trial. Paul won half custody of Leo with no requirement of supervision. While grateful, he was sad that he had missed a great deal of his son’s life. Both he and Leo experienced tremendous grief during the long periods of court-ordered separation.”

Paul lost his legs in the line of duty. This man should have been hailed as a hero who served as a model Police Officer. Instead, Paul was subjected to unreasonable treatment via the Georgia Family Courts. There was no history of abuse. There was no history of neglect. By every account, Paul was just as honorable as a parent as he was a Police Officer. Yet, his brave and selfless service was used against him.

There is something uniquely un-American about this. Life can be unfair but everyone expects that when someone works this hard for 20 years as a Police Officer and is shot in the line of duty then special consideration is supposed to be given. Paul’s sacrifice and his career were frowned upon as if it was something to be ashamed of.


Law Enforcement Officers, First Responders, and Emergency Personnel put their lives on the line and work hours that many would consider unreasonable. Their sacrifice of blood, tears, and sleepless nights should be honored. Their sacrifice should never be spat upon and used against them in a Family Court.

This treatment of our girls and boys in blue, our medical emergency specialists, ambulance drivers, and others are human beings who love their children just as much as anyone else. A black and white and almost robotic view of a Police Officer dehumanizes the Officer. It’s as if those officers don’t love their children, don’t regret having to draw their weapon, won’t cry at night thinking about that child they couldn’t save, etc.

These people are human beings who have to make hard choices, become psychologically wounded, and are further victimized just because they had the nerve to be the most honorable of parents.

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