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Police Harassment

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Posted about 5 years ago

 

Police Harassment


Recently, the Chula Vista 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."


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