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My poppy’s house is old. It was originally a colonial farmhouse. Now when most people look at my poppy’s house they think “what a mess” or that it needs a lot of work. Both are true. However, to me it is a place of fun, exploration, adventure and learning.

His house is located in Tolland, Mass, which is a small hill town. My poppy has over one hundred and eighty acres of land. Most of it is woods, but he also has a beaver pond, a ravine, and a crab apple orchard amongst other things on his property. Hiking to and from these places is a given. The hikes can be long and hard if you are not used to the trails. I always feel good after walking in his woods. Hikes usually don’t occur in the winter, unlike in this story.

Winter came early that year. It was cold, icy and very snowy. At my house, down in Agawam, a suburban town, the snow was about a foot deep. In Tolland, however, there’s usually more. My sister and I had packed our overnight bags and were ready for our sleep over at Poppy’s. I was twelve. Emily, being my younger sister by two years, was ten. We couldn’t wait for the fun to start. Our cousins, Isaac and Tim were already up at the farm. I don’t know why we call Poppy’s home “the farm” seeing as how it really isn’t one any more.

Emily was a fourth grader. You could spot her in any crowd, no matter the size, because of her appearance. Despite her fiery hair and lanky height, she has a very quiet and shy personality, or at least she did then.

Tim and Isaac were both in fifth grade. Although they were close, their personalities were very different. Tim was the quiet, bookworm and video gamer. He preferred staying inside. Isaac was the loud, hyper active, troublemaker of the family. Often enough, he’d find himself in sticky situations.

The morning after Emily and I were dropped off, Poppy suggested we take a hike to the beaver pond. It had frozen solid and Emily, Isaac and I were really excited to see it. Tim, on the other hand, chose to stay back and play on his X-box. Poppy said we’d go around noon. The rest of that morning Isaac practically begged Tim to join us. Tim thought we were crazy though, for wanting to hike in the snow.

Soon Poppy and the three of us were bundled up and ready to hike. In the summer we could take the truck most of the way but with all the snow on the ground we were going to have to walk a total of about three miles, there and back.

So onward we trudged. All the way, there were puddles that were frozen over and looked a little brownish. We found that when we stepped in them our boots got soaked. About halfway to the pond, Isaac wanted to go out on his own to try to find it himself. Poppy said it was fine, seeing as how Isaac knew the woods really well.

Eventually we reached the pond. The scene was beautiful in the winter. Snow had drifted on top of the ice, making it sparkle. The surrounding trees looked like they were from a winter postcard. With the addition of the slight breeze, peace surrounded us.

My poppy had gone out on the ice just yesterday and all was fine so he started out again. After asking Poppy if he was sure it was safe, Emily and I started to follow. I still couldn’t keep a bad feeling from whispering in my ear. Poppy was probably seven feet in front of me and I was probably four feet in front of Emily. Just as that whispering stopped nagging at me, I noticed a large patch of light brown on the ice just a few paces in front of Poppy. Something inside of me said to yell: “Stop!!! Thin Ice!!!” Unfortunately, Poppy didn’t heed my warning quick enough and with one more step, crash went the ice, leaving Poppy in icy water up to his armpits and holding onto the ice in front of him. Emily and my eyes were like saucers and our jaws must have dropped as we edged very slowly over to him.

Once we had edged close enough I was too shocked to do anything but Emily bent down in order to help pull him out. Incredibly she managed to do so. In that moment I knew that we had to get back to the house quickly. Poppy was almost completely soaked in icy water in the middle of the winter and he, Emily and I were a mile and a half away from the house surrounded by woods. I was worried about hypothermia setting in.

We got out of the area as quick as we could and started our long hike back. About third of the way towards the house the breeze had gotten a little more forceful and we could hear a faint “Help. Help.” It took us a moment to realize it was Isaac. Poppy told Emily and me to go and find him. Emily took off as quick as someone could possibly run in the snow. I, on the other hand was hesitant. My mind was torn. A large part of me, didn’t want to leave Poppy, still worrying about hypothermia; while the other knew Isaac apparently needed help. When Poppy noticed that I was hanging back he urged me to go on ahead so I started off to find Isaac with one swift, concerned look back at Poppy.

I caught up to Emily and together we ran ahead, trying to find where Isaac was. After a while we turned back because we could no longer hear him. So we started back in the direction we came and found Poppy, who was climbing into some bushes. He had found Isaac and was pulling him out of some Mountain Laurels. When Isaac was free from their grasp, he claimed that the bushes were actually pricker-bushes.

Then I noticed another problem. Poppy’s pants and jacket were no longer soaked through. Instead there was ice build up about an inch thick. When we knocked on them it felt and sounded as if we were knocking on plywood.

When Isaac noticed Poppy’s new iceman look he questioned it. Emily and I explained what had happened, as we started walking. We still had a long way to go.

The longer we walked, the more Poppy wanted to keep stopping. I wouldn’t let him stop. Somehow I knew he needed to keep his body heat up. The only way I could think to do that was to keep walking. I also knew that he was getting tired, probably from the extreme cold. That thought of hypothermia scared me as much as it kept me going. I knew what could happen if Poppy didn’t get warm soon, and that was not on my agenda.

We eventually came to his once flourishing, but small, blueberry patch. I knew it wasn’t far now. Emily and Isaac decided to go back through the small cemetery. That path was the harder choice. It required more work because the path was not as well used.

I, however, stayed with poppy and took the easier and more direct path. I don’t think that Isaac and Emily fully understood the situation and what dangers were possible. I had only just watched a documentary, in school, that had a case of hypothermia in it. I was only in sixth grade at the time, which wasn’t much of an age difference compared with my sister and cousins, but in this situation I realized more than they did.

After what seemed like forever, we made it out of the woods. The house was in view now. Thankfully, this time we could walk on the main road. Emily and Isaac exited shortly after us as we headed to the warmth of the house.

As soon as we entered the house I said to poppy: “Get out of those clothes, take a hot shower and then go to bed!” I assured him we would be fine for the time being. Poppy, not paying my advice any attention, just changed clothes. Then he went about his day as if nothing had happened. That night he strongly regretted not listening to me. He was beginning to feel the effects of the day’s events. I remember him telling me that he wished he had had that hot shower, as I suppressed an “I told you so.”

The next day was the day that Poppy would drop us all off at our homes. Within a short amount of time the whole family knew about Poppy’s little icy dip. They were concerned at first, but now these events are just considered a family story.

When I look back now, I think of the lessons that these events taught me. One example of this was learning to trust my intuition. Often times it’s those life lessons that are of great value and they can only be taught by experience.

Writing Question

Mitchell Wydetic
Saint Leo University
CRJ530 Ethics in Criminal Justice
Dr Metts
February 19, 2022
The attached memo underlines the situation and course of action in regards to Detectives Underwood and Freeman’s infiltration and intelligence gathering mission into the Ruckus society before the Democratic Republican National Convention in Miami Dade County. Since this mission features relatively under experienced detectives, as well as a potentially volatile target group, the task of setting out expectations and boundaries was prioritized. Although the gaining of trust is a necessity for all cover work, it is determined by department policies that major felonies such as armed robbery and grand theft were not proportionate to the gains associated with infiltrating Ruckus. With the implementation of federal departments, we also in good faith could not permit the use of marijuana but can stomach lesser, non-property related activities. It is the belief that Detective Underwood’s status as a woman will by her some leeway in some of these situations. Playing these risks as well as assessing when to report or play into actionable intelligence was concluded to be a priority in training due to the inexperience and make-up of the cover environment.
Memo to DRNC Undercover Agents
With the Democratic Republican National convention on the horizon and the Ruckus Society looking to infiltrate and induce protests and potentially physically violent acts , the decision has been made to insert Detectives Freeman and Underwood into their ranks and extract information about their intentions. As intimate as Freeman and Underwood will be to the Ruckus society, combined with the nature of the group as a whole, the boundaries of what behavior is allowed to accomplish the task at hand and what would cross ethical lines for this operation needs to be established. The safety of our agents is surely the main priority, but the need to establish clear but repeatable boundaries for our agents also assures the success of missions yet unknown.
The Ruckus society almost certainly participates in minor offenses within their social cliques. Theft and the consumption of marijuana are almost certainly the most common. Because of the laws in the state of Florida banning recreational use, as well as the federal ban on cannabis, we suggest avoiding the consumption of marijuana unless otherwise unavoidable ( Rosenthal, 2021). In terms of the petty theft that the Ruckus gang is believed to be frequently involved in, it is our opinion that the small scale damages or inconvenience incurred in any participation of Freeman and Underwood in these crimes are outweighed by the importance of the information gained by securing middle and high tier Ruckus gang leadership trust. It has long been decided in the world of undercover policing that it is dirty work, and some rules may have to be bent to secure disproportionately larger gains ( Watchel,1992).
What will not be perceived in the same light is the participation of more serious crimes in nature, or activities that can cause serious and lifelong bodily harm. A price tag for petty theft is not only smaller, but more contained after the fact by the department. The connection of our officers to felonies like armed robbery or grand theft is not in the nature of undercover police work ( Watchel, 1992). Our objective is to stop a series of felonies, not be complicit in them. In the same vein, Freeman and Underwood must be made aware of the fact that the cessation of all criminal activity on behalf of the Ruckus society is the final goal. If Freeman or Underwood are made aware of illegal activities, any and all action should be taken to alert their supervisor and the department can decide the course of action. Despite the fact Freeman and Underwood are being given a tremendous amount of trust, they still cannot see the whole picture from inside the ranks of the Ruckus society. Recent feedback from the surveillance of environmental protesting groups in the United Kingdom showed that information can be extracted and acted on without revealing the undercover officers (Sclembach, 2018). The department’s leadership will have to take great care in ensuring the insight is acted on in such a way as not to blow their cover, but neither Detective Freeman or Underwood determine whose rights and property are protected. If actionable intelligence can be reported safely, we high encourage them to do so whenever practical.
Before we send Freeman and Underwood into the proverbial lion’s den, the department must establish precisely what techniques and strategies they should use to not only secure their safety, but the trust of the Ruckus society members they will be with as well as the integrity of the department once our progress inevitably goes public. Primarily, Underwood and Freeman must understand that abusive police deception is dangerous for the ethical perception of the department and the criminal justice system as a whole. The unnecessary disclosure of nonvital medical information, personal facts such as family life as well as the covering up of their own secret acts is not ethical police work and is counterproductive ( Hadjimatheou, 2017). Additionally, the criteria for disclosing certain information, whether believed to be true or not, or whether to be dangerous or harmless is a serious matter for deep undercover work. The agents need to understand that the possession of intelligence leading to the prevention of a crime or an eventual arrest must go through a risk assessment ( Hadjimatheou, 2017). Is this information inherently dangerous? Does the proliferation of the intelligence make it more dangerous in nature if acted upon by the department? Such questions are key in deep cover work, as relaying information while at Ruckus camp may be difficult if not at times impossible.
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