Monday, September 7, 2009
I had promised myself that I would not be jumping into the media fray involving the Sergeant Jim Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department, President Obama and that knucklehead breaking into his own home because I try to stay away from the furor of the moment. Putting the politics aside I want to point out that Jim's beer pick of Blue Moon was by far the best choice of all the beer that had been assembled, it showed a refinement and intellectual grace lacking in the other beer selections, but I digress.
This incident made me think back to the calls that I responded daily to in patrol where our mandated response was not well understood to the public. I selected the type of call that would be told to me at a party where they did not know I was in law enforcement and the story would start with, "Let me tell you what this stupid cop did to me the other day..." After hearing the story I would interject the reasons for the Officer's actions and get a ,"Oh I guess that makes sense, I guess I just did not know." and I always would respond ,"And yet you were more than happy to label him/her a jerk even though you had no idea what was going on. I hope that does not happen to you through the course of your day."
Due to the incredible slowness of my typing with one good hand I will just be providing two quick examples and more to follow once the right wrist is back in the locked and upright position for liftoff.
1. The above Sgt's call. I have had many such calls in my career, where the homeowner or associated family member has to break into their home because they have locked themselves out. You want the neighbors to call 911, when someone, even you, is breaking into the house, burglars tend to look like all the rest of us-the hamburgler ruined it for all of them.
What we do: This is considered a hot call and emergency response is used. The emergency lights and siren are shut down before we get arrive on scene. Two officers are around the house to respond to subjects fleeing the home and two officers are assigned to make contact with whomever is in the house. We will not be ringing your doorbell, knocking on you door or calling your telephone because if it is bad guys in the home it usually is not a good idea to let them know that the Police are here(I used to get asked that all the time, why didn't you...). We will usually enter the same way you entered. We will let you know who we are and make contact with you. You will be required to provide us with a picture I.D., no matter who you are. We can not just take your word for it because, well, criminals tend to lie (I know shocking) and handing me a framed picture of you that was found in you home will also not suffice because of domestic violence problems. Orders of Protections restrict offenders from addresses they own. I have arrested Men and Women breaking into homes at addresses they have been residing in just the week before. Finally I am going to ask for your telephone number, it is necessary for the report and the associated computer data entry. I promise I am not going to sell you Am-way.
What you need to do: It’s simple, call 911 and let us know you are locked out. We will arrive, we will make sure it is property that you can legally enter and then leave, wishing you a good day, in the process. No fuss no muss.
2. Non-physical domestic trouble call. Assuming there is not an Order of Protection (O.O.P.) in play this is considered a non-emergency call. Usually there will be two of us there to separate the involved parties and calm things down while getting the account of what had just happened. First, what has happened in the past is of no concern to us. One of our first task is getting to what has happened, just now, that caused the 911 call, not what horrible things she did to you in college in 1968. It is not that we do not care that she just broke your great-grandmother’s clown holding red balloons sculpture but if it took ten years to get to this point, I will have to spend a shift and a half with you just to get to today’s issue. Second, the first person to call 911, does not win. It really does not even come into play; if it did we would have abusers with 911 on speed dial with a baseball bat handy. Third, I am once again going to ask you for a picture ID, yes even if it was you who called 911 or just got home from work (for the same reasons as example 1). Forth, I only have the power to remove someone from their home if it is a court order or a provable criminal act has occurred. As much as you may want me to drag your husband kicking and screaming to his Brother Ray’s house for the night, I just can’t, even if you ask nicely and then start screaming at me. Fifth, you can do the following: be drunk in your own home, invite friends to the house that do not like your significant other, have sex with people other than you, repaint the living room walls, rearrange the furniture, play video games past 10:00pm, smoke in your fully restored 1968 Stingray and well a bunch of other things-I may not like it but really do you want me pulling you from your house because you dropped a lollipop on the white shag carpet-I thought not. Six, we really do not want anything bad to happen to you and please do not come to this conclusion just because we did not immediately acquiesce to your multitude of demands. Seven, complementing/coming on to me and vice versa bringing the legitimacy of my birth and the moral standing of my mother into question will not cause me to side with you, just the facts ma’am. Eight, what you current income is, whether very high or very low, does not change my response to this incident. Nine, if you call us, a written report will be made and yes it will contain your slanted and suspect oratory of the event but it will also have a equal amount of narrative time dedicated to the other persons slanted and suspect oratory. Ten, yes at all times I want to be able to see my partner, Officer safety is my first responsibility, you should not ever get alone time with either of us.
What you should do: If you believe that a relationship duress is getting beyond you control I want you to call 911. I will be happy to go to a thousand domestic troubles if it prevents even one domestic battery. We not fix your relationship, hopefully we can get the two (or more) of you to calm down and separate long enough for the professionals to step in. Please understand that if there is someone out there in the street injured your argument will not be a priority. Pray, lots and lots of prayer is always needed, when times are good and when they are bad.
I hope this helps. More to come in some future post.
When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.