Friday, March 16, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lesson #3

Pre Citizen's Police Academy... I'll just mention what I think I'll learn tonight. We will be visited by the chaplains. (Probably a tearjerker story or two.) And, proof of police officer senses of humor...S.W.I.N.E. this is a self-appointed acronym regarding a special law enforcement task force. Can't wait to have my brain filled with fascinating law enforcement facts. And now it's time to head off to see how the "boys" in blue save the world.

I'll do the update in the morning.


These are a few of the things I learned last night.

Prostitution is alive and not what we think it is. The Vice detective shared some truly horrific stories of young women brainwashed, kept in near kidnap type situations, tattooed with the pimp's brand, and totally at his mercy, of which he has none. The detective shared because girls develop at an earlier age he's aware of even nine year olds who have begun to be ushered into that life. (Life?) (And this happens in the midwest?) A big case recently involved a man who actually played for the NBA and then somehow made a career change into becoming a pimp. One of his girls was arrested, and later said she was so grateful she was, as they had been basically keeping her and her baby hostage. My right to be ignorant of some of the awfulness in my back yard is at the expense of men and women who want to keep the world a better place.

Drugs. This task force, except for the salary of the officers involved, is completely funded by seizures and shared seizures. Cars, money etc. When drugs are involved a car and cash can be seized along with the drugs. If the person who owns the car or cash can provide a paper trail, then it's all good, the property is not seized. But if they can't, the property is no longer theirs. What's more. if there is a drug bust of significance, a street value is assigned to the drugs, the drugs are of course taken off the streets, destroyed etc. But the street value (because they were going to sell them) is provided to the IRS. The drug "owner" now has to pay tax on those drugs. One guy in my class got a little hot under the collar about that...uhhh, Dude, how many thousands of dollars have they dealt tax free? Before getting caught? Not sure if he got it. Anyhoo, that is a consequence I never even considered an option. It is true that the task force wants to get the big suppliers and will use citizen informants (often those they've busted who will roll.) The awful pictures of homes and the stories of kids living in those homes was heartbreaking.

It was good that this heavy, heavy presentation was followed with the chaplains. One of them, while some of the haunting stories were still fresh in our minds made a comment along the lines of. "We are there to listen to any officer who needs to talk. We ride with them, get called into some hard situations. But we see stuff that is traumatizing once a month, every couple of months. These officers see this stuff every day. And what they see they don't want to take home. Their homes are where their families are, the ones they are trying to protect along with the rest of the citizens in our city. Taking the ugliness of the street into their homes is not an option for them. We can be there while they unload horror, just speaking it helps, and we can pray for them."

Wow. Then he went on to say that not only that, when people have a cop encounter they are more prone to spit, curse them out, yell and lie than show any level of kindness.

& and I were really impacted by the picture he painted. Not that we spit at cops. Hardly. Nor do we have many official encounters. Ha Ha. But to really get a glimpse into their lives is sobering. We talked all the way home. Every one of the ten or so officers we've encountered in this class has been a really neat guy. They have a sense of humor, they are doing their job to protect people who don't realize it, because they feel compelled to protect. They are thoughtful, intelligent, respectful men. But there is a protective, professional edge to each of them that would intimidate if he was standing at my window asking for license and registration or at my door with a complaint. How much of that edge is because they've learned the hard way that yelling and lying would be the likely response to their questions?

If you have a police officer encounter today, tell the truth, and be kind.