Tag: Police

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?

Mob. Mentality. [Repost]

“People are a problem.”
– Douglas Adams

[Dumplings, it’s that week of the year, when the campus is invaded; it’s also the week that I am processing nearly 200 raises.  Ergo, I’m dead to the world.  Please enjoy this re-post of this time last week, and be assured it’s just as relevant this year.  Upon reflection, this is also the week where my optimism about humanity at large takes a beating…]

As if we were not already desperately busy, especially with Fall semester looming, this is also when the University hosts a conference open to the public. For a mere $44 dollars, you can come spend week going to classes about academic topics, theology, personal development, and probably basket weaving for all I know. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the people.

And we're not leaving without our commemorative mugs!

It is impossible to convey how boorish these invaders are. You’d think they owned the place! Office supplies go missing, we have to lock classrooms so that they can’t get in, they knock people down rushing to classes, they yell at everyone…genuine menaces to society. However, it’s their propensity to complain about everything, usually consequences they’ve brought on themselves by their rude behavior, that really bleaches us of all sympathy. Some favorite complaints:

I couldn’t find a parking space so I had to park in the road against oncoming traffic.
No. You didn’t. That’s like saying, “There were no cigarettes so I had to smoke crack.” Not at all. The circumstances are probably aggravating and cause withdrawals and make you irritable (not unlike frustration with parking), but the solution you propose is still illegal.

We paid good money to come to this conference, get out of our way!
We pay much, much more money to go to school here for four years. Full time. And do you think any of us get our way?

We paid good money to come here [again, please note $44], so we should be able to park wherever we want.
Hm…not really. This is, in fact, a fully functioning university 365 days a year. Which means that we have anywhere between 20,000 and 60,000 people here on a daily basis who are actually working and taking classes who need to park. To put it simply, we trump you. You are visitors, we are permanent.

We can’t find anything on this campus of yours. Don’t you label anything? And where are we supposed to park?
Yes. You will find them on those handy maps you were given on your first day. And you can park in any one of the half-of-the-entire-campus-lots we took away from those mentioned in the complaint above this one and gave them to you to use. For a week. For free. Ingrates.

The bishop encouraged us to come so, since the bishop sent us, you should give us food for free, because of the bishop.
This is not the parish potluck!

We drove a long way to come here, why can’t we leave our car in a handicapped stall?
I don’t care if the Vatican called you personally and declared all your sins would be forgiven if you invaded campus. I don’t care if we get an email from Mecca declaring this the site of this year’s pilgrimage. I don’t care if St. Thomas a Becket re-capitates himself and orders Chaucer resurrected to write another masterpiece about our humble university town. You do not, under any circumstances, get to get away with such unpardonable behavior!

(Cutting in front of whole lines of people, including one in a wheelchair, to buy things at the campus store and then snapping at the people who ask you to move to the back of the queue, “We’re with the conference!”)
Who raised you?!

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,

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.

And in the Meantime, Life Goes On

“A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As excited as I am about our move (and as daunted by the still colossal amount of work we have to do), life goes on here at the police department.

During summer campus is divided up between sports campus, youth groups, lecturers, exhibitions, and (of course) the Mob of Idiots.  Officers debate which of these events are the most stressful to work, but I find I get the best stories out of the kids running around.

Kids. If I ever run out of ideas, maybe I'll spawn a few.

However, nothing will beat the day many summers ago when I was interning at NATO.  It was the one day a year the embassy was open to school groups and a small horde of five year olds were invading to be led around, fed cookies, and meet the ambassador.  Halfway through their visit, alarms went off.  Someone had threatened the compound with a bomb.

We had several procedures in place for this sort of thing.  We dismantled our computers and locked various things away in explosion proof safes and lockers as per normal.  The soldiers were supposed to come through and verify that everything was secure before exiting.  I say “supposed to” because in reality they were suddenly charged with herding scores of excited children towards the nearest exit (“Is this a fire drill?  A bomb threat?  Cool!”).  I’ve never seen so many brawny, overly muscled men look so haggard.

Paper. Work.

“Oh, my giddy aunt!”
– C.

Good.  Bleeding.  Grief.

We are in that inverted paradox that exists on university campuses, the storm before the quiet.  The term just ended and people are scattering like insects, and I am kept busy because lots of them need paperwork done for bar exams, licensing boards, visas, internships, and jobs.  Soon they will all be gone and silence will descend until Fall term – disturbed only by the occasional conference and the heathen invaders those entail.

The great trouble with this need for paperwork, is the propensity people have to leave it all to the last minute.  For example, we have designated times for fingerprinting.  And yet, invariably at this time of year, at 2 o’clock when the sign says we should be done, four or five people fall through the door panting and beg us to make an exception and fingerprint them just this once.  And I inevitably do.  Because I am a nice person, damn it.

But there are some days that this high-minded benevolence mixes with irritation, today was one of them.

This poor girl came in and we spent nearly an hour trying to help her out.  The trouble was that it was awfully difficult to help her, because she’d made a right mess of her job application.  First of all she hadn’t filled out any of the paperwork that needed to be done before I could take her prints, then it transpired that she needed traditional ink fingerprints and not digitally taken ones so I had to beg an officer for help, and then she discovered that she still didn’t have all of the things she needed to send off with said fingerprints anyway!  It turns out she hadn’t actually read through her hiring packet – which, if my job depended on it, I think I would have taken the time to do.

Emotionally stunted, useless lump that I am, I patted her arm awkwardly and promised to do my best to help her as she sobbed all over my counter, but inwardly I shook a schoolmarm-ish finger at her.  “And what did we learn from this, my girl?”

I’m the Doctor

“We do have a zeal for laughter in most situations, give or take a dentist.”
~ Joseph Heller

Accustomed as we are to dealing with characters, you’d think we’d be a bunch of cynic old cranks unperturbed by any but the vilest of persons.  That we would have long ago reached the impossible to amuse, world weary, emotional wasteland of a DMV employee at 4:55pm on a Friday.  That we would have, literally, seen it all.

But let me tell you, pumpkins, when a wizened old man with his pants belted almost up to his ribs marches into your office, slaps his liver spotted hand down on the counter and declares roundly, “Hell, I’m John Smith, and I’m a dentist,” you crack a grin, sit back, and prepare to be entertained.

I'm not sure we can help you. Did you choose the correct police box?

And Doc Smith did not disappoint.  We all sat in rapt attention as he told nearly one dozen jokes in a row (several without a discernible punchline), used racially, sexually, and culturally insensitive language, and told us his life story.  He has been an Air Force reserve colonel and “FBI police officer,” owned his own dental practice (his teeth were more metal than organic, please note) and now owns a few apartment complexes.  Which, in the end, was what brought us to the purpose of his visitation (calling it a mere visit would simply not be adequate).  Apparently some kids who did not live in his buildings were using his parking lot and he wanted it to stop so, enterprising old cook that he was, he took himself to the nearest police station to purchase a car boot.

When we could get a word in between his jokes, we told him we were completely unable to help him, as we could not sell university owned equipment.  The best we could do was google some information for him and wish him the best of luck.  He stayed another ten minutes telling jokes and his adventures as an airline pilot before disappearing.  To parts unknown.

Best customer we’ve had in weeks!

Can’t We All Just Get A Better Thought Process?

“It’s bad enough that everybody coming into this courtroom has to walk underneath a banner that says: “Read Your Bible!”  Your Honor, I want that sign taken down!  Or else I want another one put up – just as big, just as big letters – saying “Read Your Darwin!”
“That’s preposterous!”
“It certainly is.”
– Inherit the Wind, 1951

One of the most irritating, fatuous sort of accusations and complaints that gets flung at the police department is religious in nature.

You've been warned.

Editor’s Note: Just so we’re clear, this is not about the merits of religion, my ideas on it, or your ideas on it.  It is, as usual, about people behaving badly and thinking sloppily.  So let’s leave the trollish commenting to the dunces who sit at home of an evening and rant on CNN stories and youtube videos, alright?  Onward.

Humans, being what they are, seldom want to accept the effects of their actions.  But I find it continuous funny that persons raised in religious traditions  often try to use religion (which presumably is supposed to teach them some idea of philosophical, cosmic cause and effect) to get out of the consequences.

“I hope you read the Bible tonight and think about what you’ve done.  God would be ashamed of you!”  one gentleman tries to dodge arrest after we collar him for taking pictures up girls’ skirts.
“You can’t keep me away from my wife, God put me in charge of her,” an abusive husband foams at the mouth after we serve him a restraining order.
“Would Jesus write me this ticket?” another woman demands fiercely after being caught parking in a handicap area.

Guys, you make me part these traffic jammed chariots one more time, I'm turning this exodus around! I am not kidding!

I’ve read the Bible (among other holy books of various traditions), and the whole first half of it is a pretty long list of rules and the assorted punishments and consequences that come from breaking them.  Honestly, I suspect that if he’d thought of it, Moses might have made taking pictures up ladies’ skirts punishable, perhaps by a light stoning?  And though I have not personally met him, I am absolutely positive that the Jesus of religious tradition would not have parked in a handicapped stall.  Ever.

Throwing religion around as an excuse for bad behavior is certainly nothing new (hi, Crusades!), but I’m constantly perplexed by the petty ways people try to use it.  Religion, boiled down to its very, very, bare bones, purely-behavioral-and-not-at-all-about-morality basics, is all about actions and consequences.  If you are jerk in this life, you’ll come back in the next one as a mongoose.  If you do not obey certain behavioral strictures, you will continue to be alienated from God and His chosen people.  If you do not seek after enlightenment, you will never achieve nirvana.  Etc.

Ergo, trying to use any values system that teaches cause and effect to dodge your earned consequences is bad logic.  Stop it.