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Police harassment, not what you think!


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Shamelessly stolen from another site.


Recently, the Chula Vista , California 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 "other side" (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:


"First of all, let me tell you this...it'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.


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When I was a teenager in Montebello CA I was riding down a seldom used road at posted speed. A patrol car was coming my direction. I raised my left hand up but still on the bar to acknowledge his presence in a friendly manner. I do the same for other motorcyclists every day I ride. It's my way of waving. He turns around, pulls me over. I stop. The next thing I know I'm forcefully up against a fence. He said I flipped him off. He ran my ID. Of course it was clean but it didn't stop him from making a big scene for the next 20 minutes and three patrol cars later. He might have breeded one who lives in Chula Vista.

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Joe: my guess is that it didn't take long for him to realize he had made a mistake, but now he has to find a way out of the situation. Oh well, better you than me :smile:


What I like about this officer's letter is that it reminds us all that the police have much better things to do than to go looking for trouble where it doesn't exist! They're not paid to harass; each encounter with a citizen exposes them to highly unpredicable outcomes, and they want to go home at night just like the rest of us do. But they are paid to enforce the law and to provide order in this world of disorder we all live in.


So hats off to them; they have my respect! They are willing to confront elements of our society that I don't even want to know about, let alone have to deal with. That cowardly massacre of police officers in Seattle, Washington is a stark reminder to us all of what these guys face everyday. Nonetheless, they get up every morning, suit up, and get out there to face the unknown.


An interesting side effect of this humorous correspondence is to ask us all whether we think 1 officer for 10,000 people is really sufficient in maintaining the kind of society we all want.


This is a good letter, well written, and with excellent points :thumbsup:

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An interesting side effect of this humorous correspondence is to ask us all whether we think 1 officer for 10,000 people is really sufficient in maintaining the kind of society we all want.


This is a good letter, well written, and with excellent points :thumbsup:


That's a good point. I'm pretty sure in my small town of 11,000, we have 2 patrol officers on duty at all times, so theat means we have twice the police presence as the town in this example.

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I have harrassed literally thousands of motorists, simply because they violated some silly vehicle code. And those poor drunk drivers I arrested...err, harrassed... that's some real harrassment we're talking about there, all they wanted to do was to make it home.


Robbers, burglars, thieves, drug users, drug dealers, I've harrassed hundreds of those guys.


Not only do the citizens in my town pay me to "harrass" people, they write letters commending me for it, go figure... :grin:

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Thanks for the reminder. It's been years since a saw that, but it still makes me laugh. In part because it's funny and in part because it's true. :grin:

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