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Does a Lack of Empathy in Law Enforcement Play a Part in the Loss of Our Children

When Tereasa Martin initially reported her daughter missing to Rosemount Police Department (RPD) on September 9th, she wasn’t taken serious and was told to wait a few hours to file the missing persons report. Almost 24 hours later, Martin got news that knocked her world off its axis - her beloved daughter, Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in the hotel freezer frozen solid.

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Photo courtesy of Kenneka Jenkins Facebook Page

Martin reported Kenneka missing to police shortly after 5:00 a.m., and surveillance cameras of the hotel showed her still alive at 3:20 that same morning - This is only a two-hour lapse. No one knows how long Kenneka was alive in that dark freezer; afraid, lost and confused.

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Photo courtesy of Kenneka Jenkins Facebook Page

Even the pending autopsy report may only provide us with an approximate time of death. So isn’t it fair to say that Kenneka Jenkins could have been alive for hours in that freezer, and possibly resuscitated had Rosemont Police Department allowed their actions to be led by empathy for this desperately pleading mother.

If RPD would have handled the life of Kenneka Jenkins with the same urgency and concern they would have given one of their own when Kenneka's mother initially summoned their help, maybe the name, Kenneka Jenkins wouldn’t be a viral hashtag on every social media site.

Martin, herself, even expressed the thought of Kenneka being alive had her and her family’s pleas been taken to heart. She went on Facebook Live stating the circumstances surrounding her daughter is not about race, but maybe had their skin been lighter police would have responded to their cries differently.

The 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile by officer Jeronimo Yanez is another famous story that may have had a different ending had empathy played a part. Although details surrounding this case are totally different than those of Kenneka Jenkins, the lack of compassion shown for the victims and their families seem to parallel one another.

Yanez fatally shot Castille as his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year old daughter looked on. Yanez later said he feared for his life and the life of the passengers of Castile’s car. This statement, to me, held so much irony. How could Yanez have been afraid for the life of the passengers when he’s the one who erratically fired seven shots into the vehicle.

If Yanez had practiced the smallest amount of solicitude in his approach, perhaps he would have anticipated one of the bullets possibly hitting Diamond Reynolds, or her young child; thus leading him to respond in an appropriate manner. I believe this would have given us a different outcome than the one we’ve all painfully watched play out on Facebook Live.

Like many others, even the verdict that yielded Yanez a free man gave not a single hint at empathy, nor any of its constituents. Philando Castile's mother stated the verdict sent out a message that dehumanized her son in the eyes of the law.

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Photo courtesy of essense.com

No mother should ever be forced to bury a child. And no mother's cries should ever be silence, nor ignored in pursuit of her child's safety and well-being.

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