The payoff of patience

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2001

This editorial appeared in today's Los Angeles Times:

It's an all-too-familiar scenario: armed individuals in a standoff with police-and some ravenous media representatives. Two things were different this time: All the holdouts were children, and the ending was happy. After deadly confrontations at Ruby Ridge and Waco (children perished in those places), anxious Americans could be excused for expecting violence feeding endless investigations and conspiracy theories. Idaho's panhandle is a scenic blessing that smells these days of warming pine needles and cold streams tumbling down hillsides. But hidden beneath the beauty is appalling rural poverty, including that of the McGuckin family in Sagle. JoAnn McGuckin, the apparently paranoid widow of a multiple sclerosis victim, refused help. Her property was sold for tax liens, with eviction suspended. Receiving reports of filthy housing, child welfare workers lured McGuckin out. When authorities returned for the six children, they confronted a pack of fierce dogs and youngsters running for guns. Wisely, police, prosecutors and a family attorney had learned lessons from those earlier federal confrontations. Patience ruled. Over several days of worry and frustration they used friends and messages from Mom to entice out the frightened youngsters.

Hearty congratulations to savvy Sheriff Phil Jarvis, a former San Diego detective, and his department of professionals, who knew what they wanted and got what we all needed - without force.

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