If you have tried to contact the Los Angeles Police Department recently you may have noticed their latest greeting.
Last week, I called the main headquarters and asked to speak to a specific detective in the Robbery-Homicide unit. I was greeted by the LAPD warm and fuzzy woman with, "...and you are?"
I wasn't certain what that meant. My first inclination was to say "a taxpayer" but city employees have all been schooled to respond, "So am I." So my next choice was simple honesty, "I'm sorry, I don't know how to respond to that question."
So that question perpetuated a more intelligent response from the woman, "...and you are?"
I was reluctant to make any sarcastic or cynical comments concerned that she was simply suffering from DSS, Delayed Stutter Syndrome. A rare but bureacratic ailment for which there is no cure.
A further inquiry by this woman lead to being asked if I was "law enforcement" or just a regular person. Again being caught off guard and unaware that law enforcement weren't regular people, I reverted back to my upbrining in Sarcastia and to my native tounge, DSS or not. "I'm sorry, I thought I was calling the LAPD, I must have dialed the White House by accident."
This prompeted my call being forwarded to anywhere but Robbery Homicide.
On another ocassion, I accompanied a client to Central Division downtown. The client had an employee that had stolen $50,000 or more in company merchandise. As I was not the complaining party, I had no personal standing to make the report so I took the client to the station to get the ball rolling. That conversation with the officer went significanly better as the officer at the desk said, "That's a civil matter, not criminal."
After an lengthy explation of grand theft coupled with the meaning of embezzlement and a quick interruption so the officer could change the television channel to, I convinced him to find me a detective. Twenty minutes later, no one arrived, but he did agree to take the report.
Now, police reports are not evidence in a criminal matter, they are considered hear-say. Common sence tells us that accuracy in a report is very important. When the theft report called for the item(s) of theft, this officer wrote "Cash." Upon seeing this, I had to explain to the officer how merchandice may cost "cash" and sell for "cash" but unless you are the Fedreral Reserve or a loan shark, "regular" people don't actually sell cash. I imagine there would be very little profit in selling $20 for $20. The report was eventually changed, but not without stares and looks of disdain and pure hatred from the officer.
On another ocassion, I was threatened while serving a subpoena. No big deal, I'm used to it, only I was with a friend of mine at the time who was an 18 year veteran P-3 with the LAPD. After the incident, he insisted that I report the threat and took me to his station, West Valley. He sat patiently in the lobby while I went to the counter to file whats called a "criminal threats" report. I advised the officer at the counter that a person said he was "Going to f***ing kill me." The officer proceeded to explain the suspect's First Amendment rights and how he was merely exercising his free speach. It was at this point that my friend came over to educate the Juris Doctorate wanna be about practicing law without a license.
In short, the LAPD has reported that crime in LA is down when in reality, I believe only report taking is down. When "regular people" are told by officers, things like "that's civil" or receiving their daily lesson defining First Amendment Speach, people are content to walk away; frunstrated, but still believing the police know best. I have suggested to many detectives and brass that they to go to the counter of a station where they are not known and attempt to report something and see how they are greeted by the officers who always seem to have something else to do and your being there is simply an annoyance.
Oh, and by the way, the officers working the counter are usually there for typically three reasons; disciplanary issues; or to quote an fellow LAPD officer, "lame or lazy;" forced to work the counter because no one else wants the job. That's probably good for a little attutude...don't you think?