3-year-old taken from troubled household gets deputy visit to help him get over fear of police
FOWLERVILLE, Mich. (FOX 2) - Little PJ never had a home. At just 3 years old, he’s moved 30 times with his troubled parents.
"My grandson PJ has had a tough go of it, his parents had run-ins with law enforcement leaving PJ fearful of law enforcement due to his young age," said his grandmother Kris Visel. "No money, so there was times they weren't able to feed him. The list just goes on and on."
PJ's grandpa and grandma who now has legal guardianship of him, says the smiling boy you see was not always that way.
"We do know there are at least 14 allegations of abuse and neglect, and we know CPS was involved in the first year of his life too," Visel said.
Before, PJ would stay with grandma and grandpa – here and there - only to be ripped away.
"It's crushing. I can't even explain to you every time he's gone that we are just broken," she said. "We'd walk around like zombies wondering if he is going to be okay or if the next phone call is that he's been hurt or killed."
In April came the last straw, a domestic situation with PJ's parents – involving a beating and guns. PJ saw it all, and of course police came in numbers.
"They came they surrounded the house with guns," Visel said. "They did what they had to do everyone was out hands up. Everyone was frisked, including PJ."
It was one of many negative encounters making the boy terrified of the police. That was until last month when a chance traffic stop near Kris’ Fowlerville home, by a Livingston County Sheriff’s Deputy.
"I was like is there any way you or someone in uniform could come talk to him and give him a positive police experience," said Visel.
The next morning – there he was, Deputy Franz at the door.
"He was nervous at first, most definitely nervous," she said.
A toy truck and a handful of junior deputy badges later - PJ warmed up to his special visitor.
"After a few minutes he looks up at him and says, 'Can you push me on my swing set?' and he said, 'Sure buddy.' And he grabbed him by the hand and led him to the swing set," Visel said.
The deputy explained away some of the boy’s fears.
"It was like he left, jumped on his bike, slapped a badge on and started pretend pulling people over," his grandmother said. "I expected it to help, but I did not expect it to do what it did. It changed it instantly for him."
Deputy Franz, a dad of his own has a new biggest fan.
"I don't know the words. I thank him tremendously - I'm so thankful," she said.