Monday, January 14, 2013

Police Endanger Complainant

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, March 16, 2011; replayed on RVTV Channel 14; schedule at  Video available at:  

            The Thursday after our last meeting, I was challenged by an unrestrained dog at the edge of his yard as I walked my dog.  This brought my attention to the numerous piles of dog manure littering the tiny front lawn within a few feet of the street.  I thought that our police might actually respond to this double safety hazard, and called it in.
When I called the next morning about the piles undisturbed on the lawn, I was told that he had been talked to; that the dog was well-behaved; but he was told that he had to pick up his dog piles every day. 
Later that day, the owner of the dog was on my property, indignantly asking my housemate why I hadn’t talked to him instead of calling the cops.  When he talked to me that Sunday, he said that the officer had told him who complained and said that he didn’t even know why I’d called, though he did say something about the dog piles. 
I was appalled that the officer gave my name and address to the man I complained against, and belittled my complaint as well.  The apparent result of his loose lips was that someone drove over my landscape mulch, daffodils, and a bayberry bush last Saturday while I was at my protest, the first case of vandalism we’ve had since renting the place 18 months ago.
We should not have to complain to police or neighbors about petty nuisances and safety hazards.  There is no nice way to tell a neighbor to clean up his mess.  Such nagging is the job of police: necessary evil. 
If an officer had been walking by on his beat looking for violations, he would have noticed the dog piles as they piled up, or suddenly like I did, and been properly indignant.  But since my complaint took him away from something else, he was annoyed at me instead, informed on me, and so belittled my complaint that the man didn’t even pick up his piles right away.
All of our police should be walking our streets looking for such violations and issuing warnings, not just CSOs.   Enforcement by complaint is proper with higher-level crime that the police don’t feel put-upon to respond to.  But if police are actively looking for litter and weeds, it can lead them to other evidence of crime or neglect, keep peace between neighbors, and bring our servants closer to the people they serve.  And it would make this city a cleaner, more orderly, and thus safer place to live.

Published at under Necessary Evil #5.

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