I’ve mentioned in several of my previous posts that I live in a small rural town in Upstate NY. Life is pretty simple here. You know most of your neighbors. There’s very little crime. You really don’t have to lock your doors. And your children can play without fear of being abducted. One of the few complaints I have is that the city police department is extremely ineffective and inept. I know this personally.
My daughter was taking dance lessons a few years ago at a local dance studio. It gets pretty snowy and cold up here and I drove over to pick her up one night. I stopped my car in front of the studio and kept the heater going full blast. It was just a few minutes before she was due to get out and then we’d be on our way. As I was waiting with my two boys a police officer pulled up beside me and rolled down his window so I rolled mine down as well. He told me I couldn’t park there. I explained I was waiting for my daughter and I’d only be a few minutes. He insisted I move my car and was pretty rude about it. So I pointed out to him that the street signs said “no parking” and didn’t say “no standing or stopping”. As I was in the car with the engine running I was, in fact, standing. Just as I said this my daughter came out. I couldn’t resist. I smiled at the officer and told him to have a wonderful night. To that he replied, “you fucking bitch” and all three of my children heard this.
When I got home I immediately called the police chief and explained what happened. He feigned concern and told me to come in immediately and file a report, which I did. He acted shocked that one of his officers had behaved in such an unprofessional manner and assured me the officer would be reprimanded. He gave my youngest son a police sticker and a friendly pat on the head and sent us on our way.
That night the police chief made a visit to my house. There was another officer waiting in the chief’s car, which was parked in my driveway. The chief made some lame excuse about making a “typo” on the police report and he needed me to sign the new copy. We stood on my enclosed front porch and he made a big deal of having me look over the paper and sign it and then he left. I thought nothing of the visit and went back inside.
The next morning my kids and I left the house for school and work. My youngest son was the first to notice that my car had an indented scratch that went back and forth several times across the length of my car. My first thought, of course, was this was police payback. No way this was a coincidence. I hadn’t taken the car anywhere the night before after the police visit and knew full well the damage happened in my driveway. I promptly went back inside and called the police chief. He said that if I was accusing one of his officers I was mistaken. They would never do such a thing he said. I told him it was no coincidence and I wanted it investigated immediately. He asked me if I’d rather have the state police investigate it and I said yes. Miraculously, no further action was ever taken and I never heard another word from either the city police or the state police. Surprisingly the very next day the street signs were changed to “no parking, stopping or standing”. I was flattered that the police department did this on my account. How nice of them.
Fast forward to earlier this August. My two boys both drive and have cars. Apparently, one of the neighbors had been drinking and decided that my youngest son was driving down the block too fast. His answer was to run out into the road and punch my son’s car. To which my son responded by telling him he had no right to do this. My son, my daughter’s boyfriend, my daughter and I all went outside to see what was going on because the argument had gotten quite loud. When my son told me what had happened I decided to go down, knock on the neighbor’s door and ask him why he thought it was appropriate behavior for a forty-something year old man to punch a seventeen year old boy’s car and swear at him. All three boys and my daughter followed me down to make sure I’d be alright. I knocked and received no answer. I turned to leave and suddenly the neighbor came out of the back yard with a lead pipe. He was swinging it and calling my son “bitch” the whole time. My daughter and I both screamed and told him to stop. I told everyone to turn around and go home. I said I’d call the police and let them handle it.
The police came right away and we explained what had happened. All of us could here the neighbor’s wife screaming and the lead pipe being thrown around. I told the police I was scared for this woman and they went down to investigate. I could see from my house that the neighbor had suddenly calmed down when the police arrived and was sitting on his front steps. The police went inside and then came out. After a few minutes the police returned to my house. One of the officers asked my son to speak to them in private. I walked over regardless of what the officer had said. I was shocked, but the cop was telling my son that the neighbor claims my son “drives like and asshole up and down the street”. The neighbor also said we had confronted him and that he had never had a lead pipe, that it was a piece of plastic. I couldn’t believe it. We all told the same story and this drunk was more credible?! The officer said we’d need “an independent witness” to substantiate our claim. He was very rude and arrogant. I told him it was nice to see my tax paying dollars being put to good use.
It’s easier for small police departments to conduct themselves according to their own set of rules. Generally they have no one looking after them. Claims of police mishandling of cases, reports, etc. are common place. In fact, our very own Police Chief beat up a mentally challenged woman for jay walking when he was still an officer. He had been dismissed for his actions and incredibly was rehired and went on to become police chief. His family must be so proud.