I sometimes like to compare myself to Andy Griffith, the fictional Sheriff from Mayberry, in the way that I do my job. And by that, I mean that I try to use my brain rather than my brawn when trying to solve some of these situations I find myself in.

There are some other ways that you might describe this. I believe in a good ruse when necessary. I believe in misdirection. I believe that sometimes acting stupid might be the right course of action.

Years ago I went to serve an eviction order early in the afternoon. A gentleman was home alone with his two-year-old son. The son’s mother was nowhere to be found. In fact, she never did show up! When you hear the rest of the story you will know why.

The apartment they were living in was in utter disarray and squalor — as bad as I have ever seen! Nowadays I would call it a Tweakers Den, but back then methamphetamine use was not as prevalent as it is today.

The two-year-old boy had a makeshift bandage around his elbow. It looked like a paper towel and black electrical tape. Some higher power caused me to be concerned about this child’s condition. I told his father I was responsible for the health and safety of the people I evicted, and I needed to inspect his son’s wound to determine if he was fit to be evicted.

That was not entirely the truth.

The dad explained to me that his son had burned himself on one of those oil-filled electric space heaters. He gingerly moved the bandages aside just enough so that I could peek at the wound. It was a burn, and it was grotesque! It was a scab about the size of a silver dollar, and most assuredly did not come from a space heater.

We were in the living room when he showed me his son’s wound. There was a propane torch in that same room that presumably was used for smoking methamphetamine. My assumption has always been the son was burned while the parents were smoking methamphetamine!

I told the father that I would give him additional time as I had to pick up my children at school. This was true, but not entirely true. I did have to pick my children up at school, but I wanted to buy time.

I called Mesa PD and had officers assist me later in the afternoon, along with Mesa Fire. A completely coincidental thing occurred the second time I was there. A woman named Joanne, a good friend of mine from the Republican Party, showed up to see how the child was doing. She was friends with the child’s grandmother, and they were both concerned about his welfare.

Mesa Fire took the child immediately to a hospital. Normally in these circumstances, I don’t find out a lot about what happens after the fact, but in this case, I did. I found out a lot, actually.

Around 11 p.m. that night the lead officer called me to explain that CPS had become involved and that the child was taken from the parents. He was now a patient at the burn unit of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The officer told me that it took a half-dozen officers to subdue the father when they took the child away.

Joanne would fill me in on the rest of the story every time I would come in contact with her.

Had the child not received the medical attention, he would have lost a tremendous amount of mobility in his elbow because the burn had not initially been attended to.

They had to operate on his elbow. The little boy was in the burn unit for about 6 weeks. In the end, the child was released to the grandmother, Joanne’s friend. Literally, for years I would hear how things were. This was rewarding as I don’t always hear how the stories turn out.

As I write this, I still feel proud of what I did!

— Ed Malles