Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Here's To You, Boys In Blue (And Brown)!

This was sent to me by someone who shall remain nameless, and my co-workers and I found it pretty hysterical. Maybe you have to be in law enforcement in order to get it, but there is a lot of truth hidden behind the comedy. Most people hate cops until the moment when they need the police the most. Either the officers are 'harassing innocent people' (HAH! what are those?), not getting there fast enough (what did you expect to happen when you moved to the very edge of the county?), or doing their jobs in other unsatisfactory ways. For 98% of calls, they're the 'bad guys'. My job is sometimes hard and thankless, but I wouldn't ever trade them places.


Police Harassment

Recently, the Chula Vista Police Department ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, "Community Policing."

One of the civilian email participants posed the following question, "I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?"

From the law enforcement side, Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:

"First of all, let me tell you's not easy. In Chula Vista , we average one cop for every 600 people. Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as "patrol") where we do most of our harassing. The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. And at any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly,
one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass.

The tools available to us are as follows:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. "My neighbor is beating his wife" is a code phrase used often. This means we'll come out and give somebody some special harassment. Another popular one is, "There's a
guy breaking into a house." The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver's licenses and the like. It's lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes
you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

STATUTES: When we don't have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called "Statutes"; Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc... They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the statute, you can just drive around for awhile until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there's this book we have that says that's not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well.

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to "harass" some people. Next time you are in my town, give me the old "single finger
wave." That's another one of those codes. It means, "You can't harass me." It's one of our favorites.

I have to admit, I get pretty defensive when I hear someone make a blanket comment along the lines of "all cops are jerks". There are so many misconceptions about what it is our officers and deputies do while on duty, and I think if the general public knew what they deal with on a daily basis they'd be a little more forgiving if an officer or deputy is a bit brusque with them. After all, when was the last time you had to tackle a guy so hopped up on drugs that he had no concept of strength or pain? Or the last time you had go to a fatal car crash and then inform the mother that her child was killed in the accident? While most people are good, law-abiding citizens, they only make up a tiny portion of our calls...and most of THOSE calls are medical.

Next time you see an officer pulling someone over or arresting a shady-looking character, just remember that they're making YOUR world a safer place. I, for one, am incredibly proud of and thankful for our boys (and girls) in Blue and Brown.

...brown is worn by the Sheriff's Deputies. FYI.

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