January 17, 2010
Cops in some states run an e-mail exchange on the subject of community policing. A disgruntled civilian recently hacked into the e-mail forum posing this question: “How is it possible for cops to continually harass people and get away with it?”
Cops can’t pass up an opportunity to answer such a well thought out question. Sergeant Stedman -- a cop with a delightful sense of humor -- responded in this way:
Harassment isn’t easy. In our town we average only one cop for every 600 citizens. Consider that only 60 percent of our cops are assigned to patrol duty where harassing usually takes place. The rest of the cops are on administrative duty where there’s little direct contact with citizens, making harassment a challenge.
The harassment problem is compounded by the fact that only one-fifth of the 60 percent of patrolling cops are on duty while the other four-fifths are off-duty.
Go figure -- each on-duty cop is responsible for harassing 5,000 innocent civilians. If you do the math, a cop on a 10 hour shift has only one second to harass an innocent followed by three-fourths of a second to eat a doughnut and then go find another innocent to harass.
It’s an impossible task, but we do have tools to narrow the field of whom to harass. We receive 911 calls like, “There’s a guy breaking into my house!” That sets a harassment team into immediate action.
We have automotive harassment teams hunting for people running red lights, driving drunk, and other such behavior that can result in serious injury or death to others.
There are people who start running at the mere sight of a cop. Nothing gives our harassment teams greater pleasure than chasing them through alleys and over fences. Once the runners are cuffed, we get to harass them for hours.
When we run out of harassment ideas we have books containing thousands of tips on whom to harass. I’m referring to books such as, “Criminal Statutes” and “Motor Vehicle Codes.”
Next time you’re in my town, give me one of those priceless finger-waves which sends the message: “You can’t harass me, cop!” That one is my personal favorite.
Posted by Bob Ford at 1/17/2010