Tag: Law Enforcement

I’ll Have the Usual

“This guy’s insane.”
“Well, he thought he was the subject of a secret government mind control project. As it turns out, he really was being given daily doses of LSD for 11 years.”
“Well, in that case he looks great.”
– R.E.D. (2010)

It’s going to be one of those weeks, minions.  Know how I can tell?  Because Lt. South came to me and started a conversation in this manner: “Remember this guy?  The one who we arrested naked in the sauna and who tried to set fire to the student center?”

Keep off the drugs, kids, they get you banned from respectable universities.

Fowl Fatale

The following is a true story as told to C. Small Dog by one of the detectives.  Some [tiny, practically unnoticeable] liberties taken.

It was a dark and stormy night* when this dame called up.  She’d seen something horrible and thought she was being followed so she couldn’t squeal.  I wasn’t in the mood to do the damsel in distress routine, I’d been drinking since noon and musing on the wretchedness of the human state for nearly as long, but she sounded desperate.

The Big Sleep (1946)
I thought about starting a doomed romance, but she was too perky and I like my dames to brood.

As it turned out, she did need me.  She’s witnessed a kidnapping and had every reason to suspect the worst.  One of ducks that lived at the campus pond had been snatched before her eyes, shoved squawking into a bag by gorilla armed goons and driven off in an unmarked car**.  I suspected that the fowl had run afoul of the bootleggers and crooks who run this town – whiskey is normally involved.  And if it isn’t, I involve it.  I carry a couple flasks just for cases like this.  You can’t see what I’ve seen and do this job sober.

A couple of contacts of mine down at the botanical studies buildings tipped me off about the car and I knew enough to trace it to a run down part of town infested with the scum of humanity and broken dreams***.  I’d been there more times than I cared to count, but I had a job to do.  I had to break a few ribs, but eventually I found the guys that had been hired for the job.  A couple of drinks, some moody dialog and veiled threats and they squealed.  They told me that this guy they called The Mallard**** came up with the plan to get back at this other guy, The Loon, by using the duck to stir up trouble.  They dumped the duck at The Loon’s joint, leaving it to wreck the place and its crap all over the floor (an apt metaphor for life) before returning it, a broken bird, to its pond to live out what remained of its days.

The Maltese Falcom (1941)
This Mallard was the kingpin of duck trafficking, with the law in his pocket, justice as his dinner guests, and sinister butler to boot. I had to be careful.

I found this Mallard and let him know how many federal laws he’d violated, ducks were protected in this town and he knew it.  Turns out he’d had his way with ducks like this before, but I wasn’t going to turning a blind eye to it.  His laugh ended when I plugged a bullet in his brain***** and walked out, leaving the assorted persons and waterfowl to contemplate my anti-hero behavior and debate the wisdom of cheering a guy like me on.

I left them there, stuck in moral ambiguity, and went to the bar and let some of the boys from the precinct know I’d been doing their job for them again.  They reacted with the usual disdain of the establishment when shown up by an outsider.
“Good job, Duck Tracy.”
“You quacked the case.”
“Any evidence of fowl play?”******

I didn’t care.  I’d done my job.  I knocked back the whiskey and headed back out streets where I belonged.

Fallen Angel 1945
Someone's got to clean up this town.

*About 3 in the afternoon
** Partial license plate
****The idiot whose idea this was
*****No one was harmed in the making of this noir
******Actual puns unleashed by our witty, witty staff

Leave It To Beaver

“They might in the future more than ever before engage in hunting beavers.”
– Samuel de Champlain

We have a bunch of feral cats that roam campus after dark and periodically leave their kittens in bushes for us to find, we had a young bull moose on campus that trampled two cars once before being tranquilized, we have tons of deer that come down from the mountains and graze the lawns and landscaping in the early hours of the morning (once when walking to a class I heard a snapping of branches to my left, looked up and not three feet of me was a young buck munching on acorns, as placid as a cow).  You get what I’m saying, right, lovelies?  We attract the wildlife at Undisclosed University, we are pals with Mother Nature,  we can deal with the fluffy and furry.

But every once in a while something weird happens.

Oh, hello! Could I hitch a lift?

For example, when a beaver crawled into a truck engine like a cat and road to campus from parts unknown.  When it arrived outside the student center and the truck came to a halt, the beaver shot out and began running around looking for a new place to hid – prompting our dispatchers to be flooded with calls of, “There’s, like, a huge rat over here!” and “Kill it kill it kill it kill it!” and “My daughter just called me and told me there was a rabies infested rodent terrorizing students, and I want to make a safety complaint.”

Our officers were on the case.  Armed with long poles with a lasso like loop on the end of them, they chased the beaver around campus until in Animal Control moved in to take over, by which point the beaver had retreated to another truck engine and was stubbornly refusing to budge.

We were simultaneously setting up a sting operation for stolen electronics and dealing with a domestic violence incident that required most of our on duty officers to diffuse.

And that, my pumpkins, is what we call “Friday.”

Body of Proof

“This is what fellows always run up against in the detective novels–What to Do With the Body. They manage the murder part of it all right, and then stub their toes on the body problem.”
-P.G. Woodhoues

The other day, Susie was taking a break and walked around the office when she came up short at the copy machine station and froze with a sort of irritated sound.
“C., is this yours?”
In her hands was a photo of a particularly grisly murder scene that our department investigated some years back.  After even just three years working here, and murder hardly a typical event, this is utterly unfazing to me.  Even less so for Susie who has a good decade on me.  We’re excellent people to have around in emergencies.
“Ah,” I squinted at it,  “no.  Definitely not.  And it absolutely should not be laying around.”

See, apart from being inappropriate and gory, it’s rather a huge records protection issue to leave sensitive stuff like that just hanging out on a work table.
“Do you know the case?”
I did, from my adventure in the media lab last year.
“Would you mind – ” she thrust it at me with a wave to indicate my general responsibility and returned to her regular, less gruesome duties.

Of course, this sort of surreptitiousness (unusual in our gossipy office) aroused considerable interest on the part of some of the student employees as I went from department to department with the large photos pressed tightly to my body trying to keep them from seeing as they begged, cajoled, and outright tried to bribe me for a peek.  Eventually Lt. Citrus claimed them.  He had no idea how they got where they did – which seeing as it’s Halloween season, doesn’t inspire confidence as to whether or not our campus is located on an ancient burial ground filled with restless spirits.

There are days, ducklings, where the weirdness of my job is thrown into sharp relief.  Most of the time it’s notarization, stolen bikes or backpacks, or basic receptionist work.  Every once and a while, I’m skulking murder documents around the office like MI5.

Weirdest thing that’s happened to you at work recently, kittens?

The Trouble With Labelling. And Behaving Badly.

“Let me be clear – no one is above the law. Not a politician, not a priest, not a criminal, not a police officer. We are all accountable for our actions.”
– Antonio Villaraigosa

Dear World at Large,

I get it.  I really do.  No one likes the police (mostly, I think, because they’ve been caught) but there is an unsubtle distinction between Fascism/Police States…and you being held accountable for your behavior.

For example!  If you choose to come into a police department screaming, yelling, swearing, threatening, and gesticulating rudely…please make sure you’re in the right place for your complaint and not a completely different city and police jurisdiction.  You will look rather silly if you’re not.

Alternatively, if upon realizing your mistake you choose to continue your rant (at the wrong police station) by upping the volume and threats, and a uniformed man with a badge, a gun, and the ability to arrest you asks you to leave the property, do so.  Do not spout off that your father is an attorney (whoop de freaking doo for you, join the club), do not shout that he [the officer] doesn’t have the authority to arrest you, do not take a swing at the clerks and secretaries, and do not flip him [said officer] the bird and call him a “socialist, fascist, Taliban, moron!”.  You’ll be cited.  Not because we are fascist, but because you’re trying to hit people and trespassing.

Yours with love,

Out. Law.

“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
– William Shakespeare

Exhibit A, proof that I'm a nice person, damn it!

Both my father and father-in-law are lawyers, lots of my friends parents are lawyers, I grew up amidst a plethora of lawyers, dumplings.  Charming one and all!  I never understood the all-consuming hatred some people have for lawyers… until I worked for a police department.  Now in the cosmic scheme of things most lawyers come just above tabloid journalists and other assorted media vultures, followed by cockroaches.  Which, as everyone knows, are the most horrifying, revolting, filthy concoction of vileness God ever turned out wandering-

But I digress.  Lawyers.  I am fully aware that most are decent and lovely people (this means you, Dad) but somehow I never seem to come in contact with those types professionally.  For instance!  The one who called me today and explained how he was representing the victim of some property damage.

He wanted to know the process of personal conflict mediation on campus and I explained and offered to direct him to the proper department, but no, that didn’t answer his question.  Perhaps I could take him through the process of punishment for such behavior on campus?  I explained that if the incident was a criminal matter then charges and citations would be taken up (as they always have been) by the district court, but internal university matters had a separate office for working through such things, perhaps Master Lawyer would like their information?  But that didn’t help either.  Finally I asked what exactly it was that I could help him with.
“Well, the two parties came to an agreement about repairing the damage, but that the other party has now refused to make any payments.”
“I see, but I’m not sure how I can help, sir.”
“What we were thinking…that is, we thought that maybe…perhaps that you would be able to punish this person…”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow, sir.  As I said, that really would be a matter for the courts-”
“No, what I mean is, perhaps the university could put a hold on his student account to keep him from going to classes or anything.  You know, to help us exert pressure on him?”

Pictured: said raised eyebrow

Which is precisely when C. the Chipper and Helpful Office Assistant turn into Humorless, Schoolmarm-ish Small Dog of the Raised Eyebrow.
“Just so I understand, you are asking for my help in involving the university in a personal dispute between private individuals, where the police department has absolutely no need and the university no right to interfere?”
“Or, more plainly, you’re asking my help in getting the university to bully this other party for your client?”
“Ah.  Yes?”
“I can’t – won’t – help you with that, sir.  And nor can any other university employee I’m afraid.”  Quick transition back to Chipper and Helpful C..  “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Um, no, I don’t think so.”
“Have a nice day, sir.”

Faugh!  What correspondence school did you get your “law” “degree” from, pray?

If I Could Get a Word In Edgewise –

More fun with phone calls!

Small Dog tries...

“University Police, this is C., how can I help you?”
“I’d like to speak to a customer service representative, please.”
“Customer service.”
“Ma’am -”
“Cus-to-mer ser-vice!”
“Ma’am, I’m not a recording.  How can I help you?”
“Oh, hello.  I lost my purse today.  I was coming to campus with my seven grandchildren – Mary, John, Paul, James, Agnes, Peter, and Martha – and we went to the museum, then stopped for lunch and went to the art museum before going to get ice cream.”
“I see.  Well, ma’am, the first -”
“They all wanted strawberry, except for Agnes who hates strawberry and had to have chocolate and Peter because he’s lactose intolerant.  So when I got them all home I got everything out of my car, it’s a 2008 suburban, tan, and I just got it new tires last week, I also had to get the oil changed!”
“Alright, so what you’ll need to do -”
“And frankly I was less than impressed by how difficult it was to get around campus with seven children, I really think you should make more accommodations for large families.  But my purse is a large satchel, canvass, and it has my planner, my medications, and my wallet and I really need it back!  Could you send an officer to go look for it?”
“I can try but I strongly recommend you come in and make a police report with us, and that you also -”
“Oh, surely no one would steal my bag and my bank isn’t very helpful.  I’ve known the manager for years and you think he would be more respectful to an older woman, especially a neighbor like me.  I really think that it’s a shame how people treat ladies my age!  The person who served us our ice cream, except for Peter of course, was also not very helpful.  You’re not being very helpful either.”
“I am trying my best, ma’am.  If you could give me a little more -”
“You’re not listening to me at all.  Please transfer me to someone who could be more useful.”

With pleasure!

The Missing Woman Who Wasn’t

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity.  That, and surprise.”
– Julia Cameron

How’s that for a title, piglets?  Doesn’t that just thrill your soul?  Aren’t you just mad afire to solve this Agatha Christie sounding mystery?  Are you already twirling your Poirot-ish mustache and cracking your knuckles, ready to pounce and out the murderer, find the money, unmask the fiend, and kick up your heels after with a glass of port and the knowledge of a mystery tidily wrapped up?

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint because this, my enterprising sleuths, is about the silliest, least exciting, and yet most perplexing case I’ve yet to be a part of.

It all started when a young traveler coming in from China to our campus went missing.  I was called into a meeting where very many men in smart suits were sitting dourly at a table with our police officers.  They represented various university and otherwise organizations and they had misplaced a young woman.  Or rather, after flying into the country she had misplaced herself.

We're on it!

My duty in all of this was the fulfillment of dreams spawned from watching illogical cop dramas – I got to fill out the white board!  I traced timelines, physical descriptions, suspicions, all of it.  There was talk of embassies, visas, the FBI, human trafficking, slavery, kidnapping, scandal!  They shipped investigators all over, avoided the media, and formulated theories like champs.

And it turns out, that after flying all the way here, going through the visa process, paying for her trip, she got here, got cold feet, and turned right around and went back to China.  With narry an scorned heiress, missing fortune, or diabolical butler to be seen.

There’s (Not) An App For That

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
Erin Bury

Dear World At Large,

Hey!  We haven’t talked in a while, but you seem well and up to your old tricks, hence this little note of clarification.

Social Media - end of society? Not exactly. Misued and annoying? Definitely.

As we’ve discussed previously, technology is not always your friend.  Your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are actually public information and can be used to bring your deeds (criminal or just criminally silly) to light.  However, we need to have an honest conversation about another side effect of your media habits.

This is a conversation I had yesterday:
“Hello, my backpack was stolen.”
“Alright, ma’am, you’ll need to come into our department to make a report to one of our -”
“No I don’t.”
“I’m talking to you, aren’t I?  This is making a police report.”
“No, ma’am, to make a police report you must – except in very unique circumstances – speak to a police officer in person.  I’m not an officer, I’m a secretary.  I can give you limited advice and assistance, but that’s it.”
“Fine, put a police officer on the phone.”
“I can if you’d like, ma’am, but they will tell you the same thing: you’ll have to come into our office.”
“Seriously?!  [choice language censored]”

And surprisingly, not one of these adequately allow you to report a crime.

Last week I spoke to a gentleman on the phone, the conversation went thus:
“Hello, I’m looking at your website and I don’t see where I can report a crime.”
“Well, we have the option of reporting anonymous tips or voicing concerns online -”
“No, you don’t understand.  I’m being stalked by my ex-fiancee and I want to report it.”
“You’ll have to come into our office to do that, sir.”
“What?!  I can’t just send you an email and you take care of it?”
“No, sir.  Typically an officer will need to ask you many questions to adequately understand your situation, verify your identity, and work with you specifically to assist you.”
” [Expletive], can’t you guys just have an app or something?”

The truth is, dear World at Large, there are in fact some things that you still need to do face to face.  We may be moving towards that point, but there isn’t an app for everything.  You are still required to appear in person from time to time.  Give your thumbs a break and come and talk to me in real life, I’m charming!

Yours with love,

Physics and Philosophy

“Lawless are they that make their wills their law.”
– William Shakespeare


It would be an absolute falsehood to say that I find working with law enforcement to be my ideal job or that it answers the immortal career longings of my soul, but working where I do has given me an appreciation for job that law enforcement officers do.  And trust me, it’s not always a pleasant one.

We had another police officer hit by a car last night while directing traffic because the driver did not want to do what he was being told to and purposely struck him.  Nearly every one of our police officers and student employees were threatened or cussed out at the last sporting event.  This boggles me.  Everyone acknowledges that we need police officers, that the work they do is vital to the running of society for the keeping of law and order, but everyone seems to hate them.  Resent them, even.

My theory about this is that nobody likes to be told that they cannot do what they want to all of the time.  Of course people want to drive as fast as they’d like, they don’t want restrictions on where they can park, and they don’t want to be caught when they steal something…but most of all, people seem to hate having to acknowledge (when they get caught doing any of these things) that what they have done is wrong – even when they have hit another human being with a car.  On purpose.

They are constantly stunned when there are repercussions to their actions, and even after two and a half years of working here, this attitude aggravates me.  Every two year old can throw a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way, but shouldn’t adults be able to acknowledge that having to wait in lines is part of life, and that screaming obscenities and threatening bodily harm may not be the way to deal with it?

When dealing with police, everyone wants to be the exception – can’t you just not report this, can’t you please just let me cut off those 300 people ahead of me, can’t you just let me get away with this once – and the answer is, “no.”  We can’t make you the exception because you are the 47th person to make that very request in the last hour and if we didn’t say yes to them we can’t say yes to you.  And if we do say yes to you, we can’t say no to the next 47 people who ask.

But people hate being told no.  They hate being told that cannot act in they way they want.  And often they refuse to examine the reasoning behind that negative answer; i.e., if I allow you to drive your car through a barricade and in front of a oncoming mass of vehicles you may get injured, and you may injure many other people.  Your actions affect other people, and police exist because so many of those actions or their ripple effects are harmful.

We’ve all had a bad experience with a the fuzz, but take a minute to honestly imagine a society without them.

(Sorry, kittens, but as you can see we’re dealing with some pretty wretched stuff at the department today.  Humor will shortly return.  Hopefully.  In the meantime, let’s all strive to be a little nicer and conscientious today, eh?  There are already plenty of jerks in the world, let’s not them win.)