FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Anytime anyone is arrested, the consequences cause a ripple effect — often family members are affected, especially children.
When the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest for abuse, a 6-year-old boy was left without a guardian.
So Patrol Deputy Laura Jenkins stepped up.
She first met the little boy sitting inside his grandmother’s car at a bus stop. Jenkins was responding to reports of abuse after the 6-year-old didn’t want to get on his school bus.
“And the guardian of the child, his grandmother, had responded in a way that was very violent,” Jenkins said. “More than one person called and said that she was beating him about the head and neck with a closed fist. Several times.”
Jenkins gently asked the little boy sitting in the big front seat if he was hurt.
He told her his guardian dug her nails into him.
“You want a sticker?” Jenkins asked the boy. “There you go buddy, thank you for being so brave!”
While detectives interviewed the boy’s guardian, Jenkins kept her attention on the boy and kept him content and distracted with all of the toys she happens to have in her trunk.
“He normally eats breakfast at school so I got him some food,” Jenkins said. “I got him a teddy bear. And put Paw Patrol on on my phone. And made sure he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening with grandma right now.”
Jenkins, for exactly this reason, carries with her teddy bears, games, shoes, clothes, and even personal hygiene supplies.
“People tend to need the things I have,” Jenkins said. “I’m constantly on different calls when they come in handy.”
She estimated she’s given away more than 300 teddy bears in her six-year career at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
“And I’ve heard people say that their child has kept their teddy bear for an extended time,” Jenkins said. “And that they love it.”
After the investigation was complete, Deputy Jenkins drove the little boy to school.
“He just sat in my back seat and he was so tiny, so little,” Jenkins said. “It just broke my heart. I think he was scared in general. I think he was scared of everything.”
She even accompanied Animal Services to the boy’s house to pick up the family’s pets.
“And while I was there I noticed the absolute deplorable conditions and when DCF asked me to meet them there so they could collect the children’s belongings and clothing, I offered to pay for a new wardrobe for all of the children because I didn’t want any of the stuff from that house on a child,” Jenkins said. “It was horrible. The adults, they know the difference. And they choose to live like that. But bringing children into a house like that, it’s just sick. I could smell the house from the driveway.”
Jenkins said she did what anyone would do. She understands protecting and serving also means protecting and serving the littlest and most vulnerable.
“If I see something that needs to be done, I’m going to do it,” Jenkins said. “There’s no pushing it off on anyone else. Everything is my job.”
Jenkins said the boy’s mother is transient and had been trespassed from the boy’s home. His grandmother was arrested for abuse.
“He was just the sweetest little kid, he was so sweet, he didn’t deserve to be hit,” Jenkins said. “I understand punishment from a parent and it’s a lot different. Being punished is different than being beat and he just seemed to be so used to it. And at such a young age it’s just sad.”
Jenkins stayed in touch with DCF to make sure the boy and his two siblings ended up in the same foster home and stayed in the same school.
For confidentiality, Deputy Jenkins cannot visit the boy in his new foster home to even check on him or just give him a hug.
“It’s terrible and does pull at your heartstrings and you wish you could help even more,” Jenkins said. “I wish I could help even more. I don’t know what else I could do for him. But I think about him all the time. And I hope that he has a much happier life.”
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