Do Police Really Protect or Even Serve?
Police cannot be everywhere. They have only so many resources in the fight against crime. Even with a cop on every corner, there'd still be bad guys (and bad girls) getting away with murder -- not to mention assault, armed robbery, rape, drug trafficking, vandalism and any number of other felonies and misdemeanors.
Ok. I get the fact that it's an uphill battle. Even fully trained, armed and in great physical shape -- and even with the help of those adorable K-9 German shepherds -- the police will always be one step behind.
I believe our men and women in blue work very hard. I do not believe the stereotype of them sitting in their cars snarfing donuts. I mean c'mon. Krispy Kreme is gone. If police were really consuming all those krullers and coffee shift after shift, we'd have more donut chains in town, not less.
But I digress. I really don't care what they are or aren't putting in their mouths while on duty. I do care -- and have reason to question -- how they decide to respond -- or not respond -- to requests for help.
Those Coppers -- They've Got me Surrounded, See?
I will preface this by stating that I live within 1.5 miles of a police station. In looking up the address to get the mileage, I found out that this facility is not just a substation, either. I live by the police HEADQUARTERS of my city! One would think that having the police headquarters so close would logically mean my neighborhood (and let's face it, me, in particular) would get premier service. One would be wrong. But we'll get to that in a minute.
For what it's worth, I also live around the corner from a fire station. I can see the station across the park from my backyard. I hear and see fire trucks and ambulances racing out to save people all the time. They do not seem to be selective in their response -- the call comes in, out they go.
How Many Cops Does it Take...?
The other day, about one the afternoon on a randomTuesday, my Hubby calls for me to come look outside. Peeking through our plantation shutters I see not one, but two police cars blocking our driveway. In front of the first car is a red sedan -- smallish, ordinary looking.
Various officers -- none looking older than about 18 -- get out and walk around the red car. What could be happening? Drug bust? Gang sting? Soon a third police car pulls up. Three cop cars. Six cops. This must be something "big" we think.
They look in the red car's trunk. Nothing. Hmmm. Can't be drugs. What is it? Do they have someone dangerous in the back of the squad car?
The young girl they drag out of the car does not look very dangerous. She looks rather ordinary. Long brown hair she keeps twisting around her finger and into a knot on the back of her head. Black shirt a little too short to cover the muffin top above her too-tight faded jeans. Black platform shoes. Hooker? Nah. Nothing sexy about her dress or demeanor.
They put her through one helluva field sobriety test. She seems to handle the hand-eye coordination part ok. But on the heel-to-toe walk she stumbles slightly on the turnaround. Heck -- in those shoes, I'd probably stumble standing still.
... to Cuff a Drunk Chick
All six cops are still milling around. Only one is actively engaged with the girl. And then, along comes another cop car! This must be the special breathalizer swat team. Yep. I called that one right!
She blows once, twice, three times. Finally, after well over an hour, they twist her arms behind her and slap the cuffs on. Oh, and have her blow again, one last time, just for shits and giggles.
Giving the benefit of the doubt to the cops here, perhaps the girl's tests were borderline. Perhaps she blew in the neighborhood of .08/.09 so they had to be sure.
In the end, it was your basic DUI collar. So why did it take six cops over an hour to execute it? Is this the best use of our taxpayer dollars? Surely there are "legitimate" crooks out there that at least four of those six cops could have been tracking and apprehending?
Why DUI and not Carjacking... or Gunshots?
Do I think the young girl deserved to be arrested? Probably. Do I believe that getting drunk drivers off our streets is a good thing? Yes. But do I scratch my head at the fact it took so many officers so much time to do it? Yes. Yes, I do.
Especially when I've had quite a few experiences within the past 3 years -- right here in the same neighborhood -- where the police were not nearly as on-the-spot. Here are some examples:
1. Before we moved to this house in February 2007 we lived a few streets over. We shared a driveway with another house. One early morning about 2am my Hubby, who is a very light sleeper, jumped out of bed. He grabbed his flashlight and his cell phone. He shone the flashlight down into the driveway and shouted to the thugs busy boosting a car right below our bedroom window, "Hey, you thugs. Stop boosting that car! The cops are on their way right now!" He had already called 9-1-1 and told the police it was a crime-in-progress. If they hurried, they could catch them in the act. Needless to say, by the time two officers rolled up -- sirens and lights blaring -- a half hour later, those car thieves were way cross town, if not out of the county. The cops showed only passing interest in the evidence left behind. Kinda like a big, anticlimactic "Whatever."
2. Around about this same time my son went through a rather unpleasant juvenile delinquent (aka "punk") stage. He was brazenly smoking pot right under our noses. He was pissed off and surly and exhibiting signs of what they call Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD for you psychology buffs). One day I left him sitting in the car listening to his gawdawful gangsta rap music while I went into the store to do some errands. I came out and -- no car. He had "moved it" to another spot in the parking lot. Call it what you like, I called it stealing Mom's car.
And that's just what I called it when I hauled Sonny Boy off to that police headquarters I mentioned above. There are always cop cars in the parking lot there. I pulled up alongside one of them and told them I wanted Sonny arrested for stealing my car. This may seem like overreacting, but trust me, the car theft was the straw that broke old Mama's back.
The police had a nice chat with Sonny, during which time he confessed to them that he regularly smokes pot. He may even have mentioned that he made money by selling it (which at the time he did, I found out later).
The police did not arrest him. They didn't even give him a proverbial slap on the wrist. This was when my eyes really started opening. What, exactly, does one have to do in this town to get arrested?
3. We spent roughly six weeks renovating our new house before moving in. We had cans of paint everywhere, construction materials, tarps -- nothing of value in the house. One morning we arrived to get started working to find that someone had tried to break in. The outer glass layer of one of the sliding glass doors was shattered. The outer handle on another of the glass doors had been bent. We briefly wondered if we'd made a safe choice. After all, the house does back up to a park.
We called the police and a nice young officer came out. He took down the basic information. I asked if he intended to dust for prints. Nope. I found this odd -- more than likely there would be finger prints on the bent door handle. Well yes, perhaps. But home invasions are not a high priority for the police, he told us. Besides which, it would take at least six months to process the prints. Did we still want to insist? No thanks. We'll let you get back to your real work officer.
The next day we ordered an alarm system.
4. And last but certainly not least, the incident that shook my faith to the very core.
As noted above, our house overlooks a park. One early morning, about 5am, we hear what sounds like gunshots. They seem to be coming from the other side of the park on the playground side. After the third or fourth shot we call the police. They say they'll send someone out to look into it. About half an hour later, just as we've gotten back to sleep, the shots start up again. We call the cops again. Have they sent anyone out yet? No. Will they please? Yeah, yeah. Basically, like, take a number and we'll get to you when our coffee break's over.
The gunshots are going off intermitently. One. Then silence. Then another one. Then silence again. Like someone's shooting into the air.
Seven am comes around. I get up and take my son (who is behaving -- this week) to meet his coach to go to a basketball tournament. I come back. Hubby greets me. He says, "Take a look across the park." I look out. There is yellow crime scene tape hung from trees and playground equipment. There are police cars and a big white van. "What happened?" I ask him. He tells me that he heard activity over there and went over to investigate.
Turns out some guy shot himself in the head. Hubby saw the body, curled up underneath the slide. He said the poor guy looked pitiful.
Hubby talked to some of the cops and asked them why they hadn't responded earlier to our calls. A bit later TV news reporter came to our house and interviewed Hubby. He didn't mince words. He told her about our 9-1-1 calls.
The story never ran. I can understand why. It wouldn't exactly make our police force look very good, would it? Nor would it bring back the poor guy shooting off warning shots before finally giving up and turning his gun on himself. As pitiful as he was, the cops' lack of response is more so.
This time, they've got real blood on their hands.