Monday, March 16, 2009

Police Report/ Interrogation

I just returned from filing a police report about our broken car window and stolen radio. We have no false hope of the perpetrator being caught or the radio being recovered. We felt it should be reported to help the crime statistics reflect what is actually happening. The St. Louis Web page's "Safe Neighborhoods" told me their was no crime on our street. Really.

For those already familiar with my anti-"Big Brother" tendencies, the way this went down is no big surprise. I feel like I was slightly interrogated by the police. And the police officer thinks I'm crazy for not wanting to be entered in "the system."

First, the cop asked why I didn't call when it happened. I had looked on their web page and there was no contact information other than their address. I knew 9-1-1 wasn't a great option. From my previous experiences calling emergency services (for actual emergencies) I knew that you have to wait a long time on hold before you get to talk to anyone. And if they're already overwhelmed with actual emergencies, I'd hate to bother them with a call about a partially-broken stolen radio and a broken car window. Seriously, they should take the calls about people being shot first.

Also, when someone stole the whole 1992 Accord belonging to our friends, the police were anything but helpful. They told our friends to drive around downtown for a while and see if they could spot it (because the police knew they wouldn't be looking for it.) How could our friends drive around looking for it? Someone had stolen their car. If you get no help with a car, what makes me believe you're going to help me with a car radio?

Then the cop gave me a hard time about not disclosing my social security number, which I never do without being legally required to. Did I steal the radio? Why are you trying to track me? He told me that I needed to be "entered into the system" justifying it with a poorly thought-out argument culminating in "this week you're reporting destruction of property, but then next week if you decided to kill somebody, your info would be in the system." No joke. That was the persuasive argument for me to disclose additional unnecessary information. Just in case I decide to kill someone, this information would make it easier on them.

Why distrust the police department? First of all, I feel that anyone should be able to report a crime without fear of repercussion or harassment from the police. But as he's talking about "the system" I'm thinking, "Isn't this the same police department that just had its Chief resign after an FBI investigation? And didn't one of two officers charged with stealing drugs and planting evidence just get sentenced in federal court? And wasn't there just an article in the paper about the police department spending money it had wrongfully confiscated? Should I trust this police department?"

Anyway, the officer wouldn't file the report without the vehicle ID#. So all the information was filed about the car, its color, its VIN, its body type, etc, and for some reason, my marital status was a key piece of information. When he was wrapping it up, I asked why he wasn't asking about the radio. The car isn't the problem. They didn't steal the car- I know where it is. Following the car will only lead you back to me. What about the radio? That's the stolen property. He reluctantly added the brand of radio to the police report. That tells you that he knows the police are not going to do a single thing about it, so why did he have to lecture me for not reporting it on Friday?


Jo Ellen/Toots said...

I laughed out loud as I read your report of your police report/interrogation. I think you should consider sending it to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (That's your newspaper, isn't it?) I think they'd print it. You should have been a lawyer--your logical thinking skills are excellent. Love, Toots

sarah said...

I'm with your Toots. Think about sending it to the Post.

There are certainly times when I don't mind that I am moving 1,858 miles away. The PD certainly wasn't all that helpful when our car got creamed by the jerk who fired shots at someone else in another part of town.

Hernan said...

Send it to the post!!! Send it to the post!

sarah said...

Nate here. This is well-written and representative of our experiences with the St Louis Police Department as well. I can't think of a better place for it to end up than in the P-D!

Doug said...

This happened to me: A semi trailer was stolen. I reported it. It turned up on the street a couple weeks later without any tires and wheels. Geldmacher spotted it and we picked it up and got it off the street before the cops found it and sent it to impound for "protection". I would have had to have Geldmacher redeem it because it was still titled in his name. We called LA County Sheriff to report it recovered. When I attempted to title the trailer in Oregon, police showed up to my Woods Cross yard and were ready to arrest me for having a stolen trailer.
Your vin is now associated with stolen car or property. Next traffic stop, don't be surprised if they draw a gun.

Heidi said...

I can't believe this post. Actually, I can. I think the St. Louis police department surpasses the incompetence of the post office (which is a tall order). You should have gotten his badge number and reported him "incase you decide to kill someone next week" what a jerk. Oh, and did he happen to notice you are 9 months pregnant when asking why you didn't report it on Friday? I think your writing may be a little too witty and grammatically correct for The Post.