Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Livin’ inna hood.


I was sitting in my POV in the driveway, just returned from work, listening to the last chapter of the audio book in my CD player in the dark. I had the ignition off, and lights out, with my foot off the brake. “VrooooooooooooOOOOoooommmm!!” A little subcompact with custom exhaust that sounded like a rice-burner cycle at perpetual high RPM pulled up to the curb at the house across the street. It idled there at the curb for a minute, with the stereo thumping. “ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM, ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM…” From 70 feet away, with my door and windows closed, I could feel it in my chest. The night before, I had been sitting at my kitchen table at 2:15 AM when I had heard the same exhaust and thumping pull up, to idle and thump for a few minutes, before I came out and stood in my underwear to give that same car a Darned Good Staring At, until he had squealed tires and left.

- - -
Here’s the thing-- I hate that I’m suspicious of people. I hate that I assume the worst. Hey, a person can simply drop by and visit his Friends for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, at wee hours of the morning, without necessrily being on a drug run, right? (Right?!?) Friends that... seem to entertain a lot. Friends that... seem to have a lot of short-term traffic over. Friends that refuse to make eye contact with me, even when I’m gesticulating and saying “Howdy!” while getting the mail. Maybe those folks are just loners and aren’t gregarious. (Except that... they do seem to entertain a lot of different people. For short periods of time.) I shouldn’t judge them.

Then I wonder-- am I overcompensating because of the race thing? Is this white guilt?
- - -

I continued to listen to my audio book. Five minutes later, the guy shambled out to his car, fired it up (“Ch-BOOM-Boom, Ch-BOOOM…”, “VROOoommm!”), and took off. I thought about it. Screw it. I fired up my car, backed out of the driveway while blacked out, and let him get down the block before following him. The whole time I trailed him, I kept noting the myriad of good PC opportunities that he was providing for a good stop. Speeding. Failing to signal. Rolling the stop sign. Speeding faster. That rear signal sure was blinking quickly-- was the front signal lamp blown? Yes it was. Turning across lanes. Speeding WAY too fast. Day-um, but I wished I was in my patrol car. And, um, you know-- also in my jurisdiction. Or at least in my county. I kept following, but surreptitiously. He turned off into another neighborhood, down a windy little residential street. He was still going FAST.

What was I doing? Why was I following him?

I guess I just wanted to collect some info, to pass on to my local cops. I sure didn’t want to make contact.

I came around a curve, knowing that I was going a fair amount slower than he had been going, hoping that we’d come to a straightaway soon. I passed three intersections on the curve, each with curving streets, and finally came to a straightaway. Nothing. I zipped past three other intersections. Nothing. I pulled over at a car wash parking lot, and thought about turning back to look, and decided that, nope-- it was time to take it to the house. My night’s fun was over. A cop car passed by a half block away on the major boulevard. Huh. I hadn’t even realized that I’d passed into the adjacent town. I almost flashed him with my lights, and then thought, “Why? What do you have to pass on? You don’t have an address, and you don’t even have an LP. Just a vague description, and a generic one at that.” I turned around and started back the way I’d come.

I checked my rear view, and noted that the cop had come back, too. He was creeping around the corner. I made the next corner slowly, and noted that he’d increased his following distance, though I was rolling along pretty slowly. “Matt, old boy, you’re about to get pulled over,” I thought. Might as well save him the trouble. I stopped at the next intersection, set the parking brake, and hopped out. And waited. Where was he? Was that a shadow sliding around the curve? Yes it was. Heh. He was doing pretty good at stalking me. I pulled my Stinger off my duty belt (I was still in uniform from work), and illuminated myself. His headlights came on, and he rolled up alongside me. His window came down, and I counted 5, 6, wow! 7 hash marks on his sleeve.

We chatted, and exchanged cards. I figured that he’d find my little foray odd, but he got it immediately. “I put in 8 years as a designated investigator of child abuse and sex crimes,” he said. “I finally asked just to go back out on the street. This is what I do.” When he couldn’t find his cigarettes, I gave him the pack that I had with me. (I don’t smoke, but don’t ask.) I finally allowed that I had better run back home, and he said that he was going to go set up on the house of a certain heroin addict he knew.

Good cop.

Wish he worked my neighborhood.

5 Comments:

At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 11:36:00 AM, Blogger HollyB said...

That is a great story. Good thing you were in uniform.
I hope you get more action from your PD than my Mom did from her PD on reporting suspicious activity at a nearby school.
I don't want that "stuff" goin' on so close to my loved ones.

 
At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

What do I have to give them?

I've got nothing, just yet. No PC. Not even Reaonable Suspicion. (The definition of which requires that a reasonable person would have reason to believe that a specific crime was being committed.)

I've been on the other end of that one, more than once:
"Why don't y'all go arrest JimmyJoeBob?"
"For what, Citizen?"
"(Snort.) Hell, everybody knows he's dealin' dope!"
"How does 'everybody know' this? Have you seen him perform a transaction for an illegal substance?"
"Sheeitt! I don' need to! We all KNOW he's doin' it!"
"Has anyone that you know observed Jimmy Joe Bob in possession of an illegal substance?"
"Charlene's brother's little sister used to buy from him, but we ran her off after she started messin' around wih his son. See, he'd been married before, and..."
"Okay. So is she around? What's her name?"
"Aw, hell no. She's in Houston, now. Or Shreveport, one. Her name... Her name... is um..."
"So has anyone HERE. NOW. In this neighborhood... seen a dope transaction at Jimmy Joe Bob's?"
"I'll bet they have."
"I can't do anything until I have spoken to a reasonable person who has witnessed the events and is willing to swear to what he saw, or unless I see it myself."
"HELL, the dope's in the house! Just go in there, right now, and you can go get it, I promise you!"
"Mr. Citizen, we have a rather compelling reason NOT, to do that, called the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. I, for one, am actually pretty darned pleased that in this nation police cannot just kick in doors to look for contraband without probable cause and a warrant. I need some PC-- excuse me-- Probable Cause."
"(Disbelieving snort) So you're sayin' that the criminals have more rights than I do, to a safe neighborhood! You ain't gonna do nothin'!"
"I didn't say that. You have as many rights as the accused has. You're providing me with information. (which I and the whole world already knew. Jimmy Joe Bob deals on the side? Well DUH!) But our resources are not unlimited. I cannot sit over the guy all day and all night, and besides, I'd be pretty obvious on this little street in a patrol car and uniform. I'll do what I can, but you can do what you can, too. Here's my card. Call in any info from prospective witnesses for me. Even some license plates, if you want to do that. Thanks."

And I'd check the neighborhood that much more often, and pull over cars leaving that street more often... only to get complained on.

It's hard to provide the level of response that citizens seem to want.

 
At Thursday, January 25, 2007 8:24:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

You know my stance on the Wo(S)D, but still...

Anybody running the local dope mart right across the street from a police officer's domicile needs to be locked away someplace where they can't pass their stupid genes on to another generation.

 
At Thursday, January 25, 2007 9:01:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Yeah, I do. But who the hell wants to live across the street from one of those houses, given the status of the product, and thus the status of the endusers and those who deliver the product?

 
At Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:46:00 AM, Blogger kateykakes said...

Great story.

Excellent blog...

 

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