Friday, May 09, 2014

KEEPING CRIME "DOWN": That Guy Didn't Steal Your Phone, You Lost It

That's what a Chicago Police officer told a CWB reader when she tried to file a theft report yesterday afternoon. The story goes like this:

Also not a crime (sometimes):
Stealing someone's phone.
The woman walks out of Marshall's on Fullerton Avenue and realizes that her phone is gone. She runs inside and asks a Marshall's employee if they've found her phone. Nope.

She borrows the store's landline to call her husband. He tracks her phone to a nearby Sports Authority. There sits the guy who was in line behind her at Marshall's.

"Hey? Did you happen to pick up my phone by mistake," she asks. He jets off and hubby tracks the phone as it moves around the neighborhood. 911 is called.

Then, the Marshall's manager walks into Sports Authority with the woman's phone. A CTA bus driver saw a guy throw it into the middle of Fullerton and decided to hand it in.

Police show up. The victim gives a full description of the offender, his car, and his plate number. The cop says call 311 and file a report on the phone. A good number of people would never even bother to make the phone call and sit on hold.  And one less crime would be recorded.

But this woman does call. The officer on the phone refuses to file a theft report. When she asks why, the officer hangs up on her. Now, at that point, even more people would give up. Crime down!

But our intrepid reader calls back and asks for a supervisor. He says "no," to her request for a report and hangs up on her, too. (More crime down!)

She calls back AGAIN. An officer finally agrees to file a report —for "lost property," not theft (#HX253545). So, this incident is still not a crime.

There are all sorts of stories about how elements within the Chicago Police Department manipulate reports and statistics to keep crime "down." Downgrading serious crimes to lesser crimes. Downgrading lesser crimes to non-crimes.

We see it all of the time. Five people surround you, go through your pockets, and take off with your valuables. That's a robbery in most parts of Illinois. Not here, though. That was only a "theft" when a victim reported it in Wrigleyville.

Last month, Chicago magazine even showed how the department appears to downgrade some murder cases.

Yeah. Crime is down.

If He Doesn't Fit, You Must Re-Equip

A unicorn, er, a squadrol.
It all seemed so simple. An officer prepared to take a man into custody, apparently for drinking near the L tracks in the 1000 block of Irving Park Road Thursday evening.

What followed was a genuine cluster, all because the police department did not have a paddy wagon available on the entire North Side of the city. Here's the tick-tock.



6:28PM - Officer makes a street stop, determines that the man should be taken into custody. He requests a "wagon."

6:40PM - Dispatcher asks for a regular patrol car that has a protective cage around the back seat to go pick up the arrestee. Officer on scene says, no, the arrestee is VERY large and he must have a normal, old-school paddy wagon.

6:42PM - Dispatcher says one of the 19th district "wagons" today is actually just a Chevy Tahoe patrol car. The other one will come.

6:43 - Wait. The other one is a van, not a squadrol. Will the guy fit in a van?

6:45PM - Officer repeats, "We can’t transport him in a Tahoe" or a van. "If [the 19th district doesn't have a] squadrol, get one from another district."

6:48PM - The 18th district will send one of their squadrols.

7:09PM - The 18th district shows up. It's a van, not a squadrol.

7:10PM - Dispatchers have checked with all North Side districts. None has a squadrol.

7:14PM - Dispatcher is getting permission from her supervisor to ask a South Side district to provide a squadrol.

7:14PM - A sergeant arrives at Irving Park. Says to hold off on the South Side request while he analyzes the situation.

[Analysis ensues.]

7:15PM - Sergeant tells the dispatcher to send an ambulance because, while the arrestee is not injured, he will at least fit inside of an ambulance.

7:49PM - Ambulance takes the arrestee away.
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