Discussion in 'Missing Persons Discussion' started by cybervampira, Feb 3, 2019.
Yea, I thought the doors locked.
BHCH is a locked facility so the doors were locked so the only way she could get back in was if someone let her in or she had access to keys or a FOB. Per Colson: "Colson explained that doors are locked from the outside to prevent unauthorized entry, but they're unlocked from the inside."
From: Children's home focused on supporting children and staff
If they assumed a cold child that ran from a PRTF would return, they seriously need to train staff better or get new staff. That isn't how it works at all! Logic doesn't always prevail in those types of situations. Oh the stories I could tell about things our residents that ran did or didn't do.
I get what people are saying about staff not wanting to get in trouble. That shouldn't be a big concern though if staff were doing their jobs correctly. Never once in all my years of working at residential treatment facilities, did a staff get in trouble because a child ran as long as the staff were supervising correctly, following the rules, etc. If you look at my previous posts, I mentioned there are limitations to what a staff and even a facility can do to prevent kids from running. They can change depending on laws and regulations, the state the facilities are in, the type of facility, etc. Plus having a child run and never be found or have on die is much more serious than just having a child run away.
The DSS and CMS reports stated some of why there was a delay in calling 911...lack of training, no one stepping up to lead, radios being on different channels. More at:
Report: Black Hills Children's Home Staff waited 1 hour, 41 minutes to call 911
All that aside, every place I have worked and that I knew about from friends working in similiar facilities in SD, BHCH staff waited an extremely long time to call 911. Add in the home's remote location and incoming weather, it is all even more troubling. I get searching the gym building, if no one witnessed her going outside. Around 11 AM, the lady with the passenger reportedly told staff she saw Serenity at the cattle guard so why would they search inside longer? It isn't like they are located where other children might be near the property so at that point staff had to have known it was likely Serenity. Once the staff couldn't see or find Serenity outside on the BHCH property, it should have been a call to 911. I can understand conducting a brief search of the center property, most places would do that. The long delay makes little sense and although, I admit it may not have saved Serenity, at least she would have had people searching for her sooner.
At the treatments I worked at, when kids ran, we called our on-call clinical team member quick and then called 911. Even back in the days when staff could follow the kids off property, that was the policy. The only difference there is that we had someone that could update the last known location of the resident that ran. I don't get waiting once they were alerted Serenity was outside. If staff went out and couldn't locate her, they should have called 911 right away, in my opinion.
Maybe the administration member BHCH staff called told them to wait for whatever reason? That would be odd but I know it used to be a thing that facilities could get in trouble if they had "excessive runaways" without the facility making changes to try and prevent kids from running. Not sure if that is still a thing in SD though. Even though running is a known issue in residential treatments, they are still expected to do what they can to limit kids running...part of that is training staff. Maybe if staff were up to date on training and the policy was updated, they would have called faster...not sure I buy that either though. Kids running can put them at risk, kids in treatment can be have increased risks, which is why we took it so seriously every single time!
There also should have been an ER procedures binder located in each living area outlonging the steps for staff. There was no mention of that in the part of the reports we saw. Those also were required. I still don't understand how BHCH policy wasn't updated regularly...DSS had a part in ours changing where I worked due to their expectations regarding the consequences and expectations of a child on run procedures. It was looked over and evaluated by staff and administration after any run incident where I used to work too. DSS got copies of our incident reports too. Whenever our license was up for renewal it was shown to the inspectors too. Those inspectors were super thourough. So obviously, I feel like someone (or multiple people were) was slacking on that side of things too. I know there was a lot more in those reports than what we saw...this is just frustrating since I know how things should have worked. I don't necessarily fault BHCH because Serenity ran based on what we know, but I do fault the staff's response and the lack of training. I had kids run on my shifts too and every single time, all staff worried about the child until they were safe. I am sure many staff at BHCH care too and this is likely impacting them. I am not trying to say that they don't care, I just can't dismiss their response though!
What is the point of calling LE? Would they organize a search team right away?
How many LE do they have much area does one LE cover?
It was cold out there. She was not dressed for it.
What I am saying is that anyone would think a freezing child would return to warmth. Fun and games are over when one gets cold.
Yet her motivation may not have been fun and games. I don't know what goes through the mind of a emotionally disturbed or perhaps mentally ill child who bolts the minute she sees an opening.
Whatever 'anyone' thought, clearly they were mistaken. She did not return, or if she tried she could not get inside. That mistaken thought, if someone had it, likely cost her life.
1 day ago:
Jose and his dog Lola are out searching for Serenity Dennard. They are with Search & Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS) from the Fort Collins, Colorado area.
Pennington County SO on Twitter
We called LE because they have more of a scope of picking up treatment center residents that ran, questioning people at suspected locations the resident may have gone, getting info from others that may know more about where the resident may have ran to, reviewing security footage, they can put out BOLOs in other areas, etc. Not only that but it lessens the risk to staff. We didn't wear uniforms so an adult following a teen looks creepy and concerning.
As I mentioned previously, where I used to work once residents left center property, staff could no longer follow even when we had enough staff to maintain the required staff/resident ratio so we were instructed to involve LE at that point. When I first started in the field we could follow them but people outside our organization decided that it was no longer permitted. I don't remember all the specifics of why it changed to staff not being able to follow but one was because staff chasing after them/following them was determined by those outside our organization to put kids more at risk to get away...like they may run into traffic, accept rides from stranger, and such.
In regards to BHCH though...
I don't know what policies or rules BHCH had regarding following residents. Thier's may be different since they work with younger kids and are in a more rural setting. I worked with teens mostly and never anyone under 10.
In regards to Serenity. I think it would have gotten SAR involved more quickly since it was LE that called them in from my understanding from reading articles.
With regards to how many LE and the area they cover. I don't know specifically since I live in Eastern SD. I looked it up though and found the following info. PCSO websites says PCSO "employs 150 of the finest men and women you will find in any law enforcement agency" but doesn't state specific numbers of officers though. From:
Sheriff's Office - Law Enforcement Division
PCSO serves over 100,000 citizens spread out across Pennington County’s 2,776 square miles. According to:
Sheriff's Office - Pennington County, South Dakota
Edited to fix formatting
They have in other places, so I assume they might have here, particularly given the weather conditions. Sometimes they utilize area volunteer fire departments and other groups as well to search.
Exactly. Getting cold is very basic, Anyone would try to get warm no matter what their state of mind.
It would be a totally normal assumption that being cold would result in trying to get to warmth
How long would that take to organize?
Everyone says LE should have been called right away.
First of all, how long would it take for someone to get there?
Then a decision would have to be made for a search team. How long would it take to get that all together?
In this case, it would have not made much of a difference. It certainly would take more than an hour. In that weather, she could have not survived.
It is a horrible situation with no good solutions.
The taxpayers will have to pony up money for more staff.
Unfortunately, we will never know if it would have made a difference. For all the reasons you list above, they should have been called immediately.
BBM; This is something that I never thought of--who did finally do what should have been done and who called 911 finally and why?
I agree with you and get exactly what you mean. And very well said by the way and every bit of what you said is true.
It can now be sugar coated any way they want to, whatever. Whether unconcern, lack of training, you name it, whether criminal or just negligent or accidental and unintentional, this child was seen (if true) early on outside and could have been saved with a responsible staff and quick reaction.
The home has been found to not have followed protocol, training of employees, etc. but we all know that is probably just the part that can be shown to be true, and just the part of the findings that was shared with the public, when this disappearance did not just go away and fade from the news that it never really hit too much... Forgive me but sometimes we have to stand up and say what seems to be the case and not be shaking in our boots if we dare call something out or dare say what we think.
That call to the area residents did not go out until after I believe they quickly started calling it a recovery mission and then the area call goes out a day or so later.
It is not only who called 911 finally and did the right thing but who after Colson said 911 was called immediately came out and showed 911 was definitely not called immediately as he said? Kudos to both of those people, we would never have known but for someone calling these things out perhaps. Of course 911 from the facility could just have been at the point they realized oh my it has been some time and we had better belatedly call...
I will never ever forget this child I did not know. Maybe I could not have handled her, maybe none of us could have, hard to day, she may have been a challenge, but the facility she was in is there for that purpose. They are paid for that purpose. They are a private non-profit for that purpose. To help these children with the training to do so and the knowledge of how to do so, is that correct? Or not? Is that their purpose or not? Seriously, is it?
I never knew ya girl but you are in my heart Serenity and you will remain there.
When Serenity took off, I can imagine the staff would have some upset or excited children to calm down, group together or take to their rooms as well as doing the inside search. They may have even glanced out the window. How many staff did they have on duty that Sunday? Do they have alarms that sound off when an outer door is opened?
Things should have taken a drastic change once the parent came in with news of seeing her outside. Is that when 911 was called? Didn't one staff member go outside at that time and see Serenity at the top of the hill going into the forest?
To this day, to my knowledge, we do not have any of the answers to those questions. Not sure why providing such answers would risk anything, yet they remain a mystery as far as I know at least.
She was seen outside by a parent 15 minutes after she left the gym, but no staffer apparently saw her at any point after that. Only the parent saw her outside walking north along the road, and reported it. Nobody ever saw her actually going into the forest. The only person who saw her was the parent who saw her from the parking lot, which sits well off the road. They ducked back in the building to let staff know, then drove up and down the road looking for her. But neither they nor the staff saw Serenity at or after that point. No staffer actually saw her outside. 911 or LE weren't called until over an hour later, most likely AFTER the staff had thoroughly searched both inside the Home and on the grounds. I would guess that this means that they didn't call LE until after they had ascertained that Serenity was not on the property. The problem is, she was last seen leaving the property, over an hour earlier.
Was it ever even confirmed the person from the car was a parent? All I recall is it was someone dropping someone off so I assumed three were in the vehicle because one went into the building to try to find some to advise them a child was outside, someone was "dropped off" and the other was in the car and watched Serenity until she disappeared from sight on the road allegedly. I personally am not sure I would have left my child at that point were I a parent if I saw a child outside and no staff seemingly aware of it, especially after finding out she disappeared from sight and I went up and down the road looking for her myself.
I even thought it could have been someone dropping an employee off and not necessarily a child, as no further detail was given that I can recall.
Not saying any of this to argue but just to try to have it straight as there were and have been many conflicting things. There was also a report back when the last she was seen was by an employee heading up the hill, that seems to not be the case anymore.
I could be all wrong, just going on memory. The woodcutters too caused some confusion for quite some time in the beginning.
Maybe some of it was due to what we know now, that however many employees there were once searching were not even on the same radio frequency.
From what I recall, there were two adults/parents in the car. One went in to drop of the child, and it was the one left in the car that saw Serenity. When the first parent came back out, the second told the first that they had seen Serenity (although I don't believe they knew who she was), at which point one of them went back in and told the staff. I think there were only two adults in the car, but only one saw Serenity.
I never heard it was parents or who the three were, but not arguing, I just remember no clarification like that. The other part is the one in the car last saw her like rounding a bend in the road is that correct and she went out of sight? That is what I recall. I thought back when she was seen like heading up the hill, etc. between trees by an employee but apparently that was wrong and that seems to have been inaccurate. The last sighting was by this person in the car if I have it right? And then the people in the car when the other adult came back out drove up and down the road looking for her? So parents of another child went looking for her by car as I recall (although I was never sure it was parents) and not an employee and that was the last she was seen?
And no one ever saw her head up off the road into the woods?
This entire case, that was what convinced most she was in the woods was the account of someone seeing her heading up a hill. So there is nothing showing she ever once left the roadway?
I have followed since the beginning but it has been awhile since I have reviewed the initial reports.
Thinking of you Serenity.
What about someone seeing her up by/on the gate? Has that been disproved?
"RAPID CITY S.D. — Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding the disappearance of Serenity Dennard."
Now this is a truthful statement.
"Serenity walked away from the Children’s Home Society on Sunday, Feb. 3. The couple who was chopping wood who believed they saw her, actually saw a staff member from the Children’s Home who was out searching. They did not actually see Serenity.
Sheriff Thom says two people who don’t work for the Children’s Home saw Serenity while they were in the parking lot. As far as investigators know, they are the last people to have seen her. The people in the parking lot tell investigators that Serenity crossed the cattle guard and headed north on South Rockerville Road.
After telling staff she was missing, they left the facility."
From New details emerge in search for Serenity Dennard - KNBN NewsCenter1
A bit different than I recall and I am having trouble finding the few initial reports.