The Run-Around, Police Style

Recently, writer Noah Lederman offered an example of how reporting a crime can be a problem:
...My girlfriend got pick-pocketed on Friday...

 ...The reason you should avoid Broadway and Houston is because trying to find the police who patrol this particular corner is more difficult than learning the art of pick-pocketing itself.
Just to report the crime we had to visit a good portion of the city’s precincts.



At precinct one the woman who took down the victim’s information appeared more miserable than the handcuffed felons being escorted into the holding cells.


“Actually you’re in the wrong precinct,” the officer finally told us after 45 minutes of waiting. “You definitely need to go here,” he said, writing down the address of the next precinct that “definitely” covered that intersection.


A twenty-dollar cab ride later, we found ourselves answering pertinent questions about the crime. However, the interviewer spoke incomprehensible English and made us sick by constantly hocking up mucus into a tissue. The only thing we understood was when he kept repeating:

“Maybe you lost your wallet” and “Are you sure you weren’t at a bar?”


When the information was handed over to the officer, the cop reviewed the sheet, commented that our accusatory, non-English-speaking interviewer had filled out the form completely wrong, and then told us that his precinct actually didn’t handle that particular corner.


“Each corner is under a separate precinct’s jurisdiction,” he told us after wasting more than an hour there. “Hey, fellas,” he yelled to two detectives, “Who covers that corner?”


The cop and two detectives agreed on which precinct we should visit next and we grabbed a ten-dollar cab ride to the other side of Manhattan....
Lederman continues that they found an officer at the next station who took the report, but then they received a call later and learned that the incident would be handled by another precinct.

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I had a few thoughts on the dreaded jurisdictional issues of police agencies:

1) Just Write the Report
If permissible by agency policy, an officer should simply write the report.  Reports don't take that long and once inside the agency, the document can be sent to the appropriate investigator.  In my previous life as an officer, I worked with a few cops who could contrive and argue 40 reasons as to why they should not have to take a specific report--in the end taking as much time to complain about writing the report as it would have to simply complete the task. 

2) When Referring, Go the Extra Mile
If there is a policy reason why an officer can't complete a report, take a few minutes and contact the appropriate department/agency, inform them of the situation, get a name, and provide the specific information in writing on where to go and what to do to the victims.

3) Transport if Possible
If practical and necessary, give the crime victims a ride to the proper agency.  Obviously, this is not always possible, but can certainly be helpful to citizens.

Police officers are in the business of providing order and that often involves "messing with" folks.

They write tickets. They arrest mothers/fathers/spouses/daughters/sons.  They squelch really "kewl" parties.

Police officers are not firefighters--whose job duties are 99.9% helping people.

As such, cops are never going to win a public service popularity contest.

This does not mean that police are exempt from providing good service. Even if the victim is not in an officer's jurisdiction, he/she should make the process of reporting a crime as painless as possible.

Little things matter to people.

Providing good service by ensuring that a victim's complaint is taken seriously is something small that an officer can offer, which can pay large dividends the next time law enforcement agencies are seeking public support over a controversial issue.      

17 comments:

LisaF said...

I saw a TV show, What Would You Do, that showed two off-duty police officers doing NOTHING when presented with a situation where a woman was drunk and a random man was trying to get her to leave with him. In fact, they were joking about how "lucky" he was going to get. It was shocking.

BTW: TAG! YOU'RE IT! (See my post for explanation.) :-D

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Can't disagree. This also points out how civilian employees aren't getting properly trained for the precinct work. Then also, they sound short-handed if civil service employees are hanging around with a cough that bad.

Then, even good customer service is helped by being a good customer, too. Although by the second precinct I would have been Jest A Touch Hot.

Ann T.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I'm so not one of those rude people who talks to Government officials like "I pay your salary in taxes" etc. so don't think that please- BUT, I have seen sometimes how Police Officers act as if their job is done by their own choices instead of code or what's right. Sometimes I get very tired of it because it seems as if they go on what would take less time instead of what's right. You said it and explained it much more eloquently than me, so I'm just saying I agree with you. PS- missing person Monday - Kyron Hormon??? Just a suggestion as it's a huge case and I live 5 minutes away so I would love to hear your thoughts :)

Sister Copinherhair said...

What IS that corner? The ugly red headed step-child?

Sue said...

There are good people and bad people who choose to do the same job, sometimes with different consequences.

Every time I have had to file a report for anything, I've been made to feel like I was wasting the officer's time, so I was embarrassed for even bothering.

Then, I started cleaning local barracks (this is what I was told the state trooper stations are called around here) and realized that I couldn't be more wrong. Most of the time, the officers who would be sent to the calls sat in a room and played card games, watching TV, and eating potluck dinners.

It was the detective room where I saw the guys (no girls at either station, except the dispatchers) working their butts off, eating lunch at their desks while typing and talking on the phone, telling their wives they'd be home late again.

We never truly know what is going inside those places, huh?

Clara said...

Omg, was this for real? Damn Slam, couldn't agree with you more!

WomanHonorThyself said...

in NYC steer clear of the meter maids and men though..lolz

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Good tips! Sometimes its frustrating when you're dealing with a company (or police in this situation) that just wave their hands and say not my problem...come on, throw us a bone here...give me one little hint!

Momma Fargo said...

I agree! Amen!

We had another agency in a close state nearby make a victim drive all the way up here to report a crime. They refused to assist us over the phone and then wouldn't let her talk on the phone to report it to me since she didn't have a phone. Weird. Anyhoo, she drove 350 miles to report a crime that occurred 10 years ago. They could have taken the information and forwarded it to me and saved her a lot of grief. YIKES.

Beth Zimmerman said...

That's just sad! :(

carma said...

I had trouble making it past the Hocking up mucus part - eeegads!!! As my husband always says, "we're dealing with idiots" - this applies to most situations

RD said...

Just take the paper. Write the report and forward the details to the local officers.......

Theresa Milstein said...

That's disheartening. Nothing like being told you're in the wrong place and then maybe you lost your wallet.

Crime show police stations are always more on the ball.

BobKat said...

I would NOT want to work in law enforcement. However I highly respect and depend on the profession. They are public servants - receive a salary provided by tax-payers. Whatever police station I go into I expect the same courtesy and assistance as a police officer who pulls me over and expects the same.

The man's story you posted is an example that is unacceptable. I know it happens, and often comes down to money, or politics, but it's still not right.

Thank-you for posting.

e-welfare caseworked J. J. in Phila said...

Why didn't they call 911?

BTW, if they want nasty, try applying for welfare or food stamps.

LadyFi said...

Pickpockets are rife in Stockholm during tourist season too.

Kimi said...

Cheers on this message! US police officers are in their positions to protect and to serve and by all means it's no easy job and I commend them for the daily problems they face, but for crying out loud, the least they can do is help the citizen out by administering right directions. Are they becoming lax in that area? I'd like to know which state in the US has the best cops. Interesting research to do, huh Slam Dunk :). Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the article. Being drugged does have its benefits :). Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Best to you and your family!