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Monday, August 24, 2009

Failure to Communicate

I should have had a clue that it would be one of those days when I woke up late. My furry four legged alarm clock was still snoozing! But I'm not really blaming the dog who normally is jumping on me howling and pulling at the covers before I can hit the snooze on the REAL alarm clock. My carpool buddy and fellow officer 450 and I were 5 minutes late today. Maybe that is what set the whole world off kilter. Naw.

I know what it was. And I had warned 460 about it a few weeks ago. Never volunteer for a Beat. Just take what is assigned and work your calls. But did I follow my own advice this morning? Nope. I jumped at the chance to switch Beats and my day went to hell in a handbasket. Ok. Maybe not that bad. But it was one of those days that really tests my composure and professionalism. One of those days that makes me wonder how I keep from punching people in the head.

The first call I went to I thought would be easy. Patrol for a loose dog that we have been getting reports on for a couple weeks and have yet to see. I had this same call last week. No dog seen. Today I get to the address where the dog was last reported and as I am just getting ready to turn around and leave, I spot him. He was laying on the walkway of a house right next to the reported address. He looked pretty relaxed so I got out and walked up to him. He growled, barked and ran up to the front porch and continued to bark.

I could hear the TV and children inside the house so I rang the bell. It took a few minutes but eventually the door opened. Mr.Ghetto was a rather large man covered in tattoos, I knew this because he wasn't wearing a shirt. I also, from observational experience and watching too many cop shows and documentaries on gangs recognized prison and gang tattoos. Three smallish children peered out the window and one with a bottle squeezed out the door. I asked him if the dog was his. He looked at me and simply stated, "We don't want him no more, you can take him."

So he's your dog? "No, he's my wife's dog." Well does your wife live here? "Ya but she don't want his either. He gets out of the fence." Then you need to fix the fence so he stays in.

Mr. Ghetto just gives me a blank stare.

Well, you can't let him just wander the neighborhood. We been calling you guys to come get him but no one comes." Well we don't come out to pick up owned dogs. You have to surrender him to the shelter. "Well your here now. You take him with you." Ok, well in order for me to take him, I have to have you fill out a surrender form and there is a surrender fee. "Oh hell no! I ain't paying you s--t. You can just take the f-ing dog and get the F- off my property." And it just went down from there. I wasn't going to just take the dog. Especially not after seeing that they have a new pitbull puppy inside the house.

So poor old dog's cuteness or novelty wore off, or maybe he wasn't "TUFF" enough for Mr. Ghetto. I asked for Mr.Ghetto's name and he refused to give me any information. He told me I could just speak to his wife. Alright, so what's her number? And her name? He gives me both and then I think he realized his bonehead move so he told me to get the F- off his porch, went in the house and slammed the door.

I could hear him tell his small children several derogatory things about cops as he walked into the house. And we wonder what is wrong with kids today?

So I called the wife. Who was a much a pleasure to speak with as Mr.Ghetto. Only difference was that she was at work and so she left out the cuss words. I told her that in order for me to take their OWNED dog, I must collect a $$ surrender fee. Nope, she wasn't going to pay it. Ok, so I explained that if that was the case I would have to issue a citation for unlicensed, unaltered, unvaccinated and at-large dog. The fines for this would be $$$. She just said do what you gotta do and hung up on me.

So I wrote her the Citation. I had her name, thank you Mr.Ghetto. I felt bad for the dog. Really. But I was pissed that people think animals are so throw away, and at that point I wanted to issue the citation. I finished writing it up and posted it to the front door. I couldn't just take the dog. I needed the owners to sign a surrender form. But I knew we would be back, not only for the dog on the porch but eventually for the Pitbull puppy.

I had made it around the corner and down the street when I was flagged down by a woman walking her two dogs. She asked if I had been looking for the little brown dog. I gave her an abbreviated and cleaner version of my results. She said that she and a couple of other concerned neighbors had called before. She asked what more could she do to help the little dog. I told her that should the little dog somehow follow her home when she is out walking her own dogs she could put it in her backyard for safekeeping and call us about the stray dog.

I received the dispatch half and hour later.

So the owner's have been issued a citation, and regardless of if they have the dog or not, they are responsible for clearing or paying the citation. They can redeem their dog, I doubt they will. And the dog is safe at the shelter.

Now see here is the thing. Had Mr. Ghetto not come off as a uncaring hardass to begin with, I might have cut him some slack. Ask most officers and they will agree that when someone treats them with a little respect or courtesy or even slight humbleness, we will more often that not be lenient. But come off as a jerk, billy-bad-attitude or just plain jackass and no, we will not leave you with just a warning. And depending on your level of attitude will gauge the level of what we will do.

Be nice to me, I'll be nice to you. It's kind of hard to be nice to someone when they are spitting cuss words into your face.

This day wasn't over yet, not by a LONG SHOT! This was just my first call.

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Failure to Communicate" or "Failure to Communcate II When to call the Cops"....It only gets worse....

(in other words I have Stand-by tonight and better get some sleep before I get called out at the ass crack of midnight to drive around in the dark looking for dog knows what while everyone else is sleeping. Hummm....think I'll have to include a couple Standby Blogs soon.)


  1. I love reading your posts, Mechelle. I am so happy the dog is safe at the shelter. Thank you!!!!! Which one is he?