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to Do When the Police Do Not Come?
The adults among us might recall the King riot of the early Nineties, when
the Los Angeles Police Department held back in some places, leaving it to
residents and shop owners to defend themselves. All of us should remember
that police were absent in parts of New Orleans last year in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina.
Can’t happen here? There is an extensive personal account of it
happening on September 15, 2006, in a nearby community. The account is
long and revealing, so it has been excerpted, modified, and proofread
The party started early, so my ninety year-old sick mother and I
thought it would end early also. Wrong!!!
By 11:00 PM my mom had a nasty headache and was very tense because she
could not go to sleep. All the noise of the music and the yelling and
screaming of the multitude of people up and down the street, the
firecrackers, as well as the loud music coming from the cars that kept
coming and clogging the street traffic, and the blowing of horns made it
impossible for any one to sleep.
By 11:30 PM everyone [outside] was drunk, people were all over the
neighborhood yards smoking drugs and drinking and making a mess by leaving
cans and bottles all over the place. They put bottles next to our cars
tires and the mob of people kept growing as the night got later, instead
of ending the party.
I called the [police station] and reported the noise and the drunkenness
on the neighborhood yards, but the lady officer that answered the phone
sounded very uncaring, even annoyed, by my call, saying that there was an
emergency and the entire force was busy with that, but as soon as they had
some one available she would send a unit to look into this.
My house has two gates. A wooden gate on the north side of the house whose
walk-way goes by the bathroom and my mom's bedroom window. Well, my poor
mother got the scare of her life when two guys opened the wooden gate,
came into our yard and started to urinate right outside her bedroom
window. She was so scared that she could not scream; instead she clenched
her teeth so tight that she broke the molar that holds her partial. She
now has to have that dental work done, but since that night her blood
pressure has been too high for the dentist to work on her teeth. So she
has another appointment at the dentist this coming Thursday and we hope
the work can be done at that time.
As I said, my first phone call to the police dept. was around 11:30 PM
that night. We waited and waited and waited some more but no one would
come. My mom started to complain that she felt dizzy and her head was
pounding with pain. I called the police dept. again about 12:45 AM and the
same lady answered the phone. By this time she sounded really annoyed.
She said no one was available yet due to the emergency of earlier (the
emergency was a stolen car, I found out much later). About 1:00 AM I had
to call the police department again and the same lady answered the phone,
and this time she was outright rude! I was crying on the phone because by
this time the so-called party had deteriorated to the point of fighting.
There were several fights going on at the same time, and one of them was
taking place right at my driveway….
This person learned that the party host had some relation with the police
department. Did this person pursue a complaint? No, because he feared
retaliation of some sort from the department.
If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
with “E-News answers” in the subject field, you will be credited
toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be
awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization.
1. What is the lesson here?
(a) Nothing works perfectly and we must accept that.
(b) We must have a backup plan for every emergency.
(c) More police service necessitates more budget for the police
(d) The less dependent we are on others, the better for us.
2. What is the best action which you could take?
(a) Train and participate in our police department’s citizen patrol.
(b) Join neighbors in organizing and equipping your neighborhood for an
(c) Join others in asking the city council to pass an ordinance requiring
a bond and / or insurance if the number of partygoers exceeds a certain
number; if there is no coverage and there is an incident, the fine will be
three times the amount of physical damage and mental anguish to partygoers
and neighbors, whether or not the police come.
(d) Join neighbors in creating a neighborhood council and agree upon rules
of “neighborly conduct”.
(e) Join others in setting up an independent, community-wide oversight
committee to which suggestions and complaints would come and from which
reports and initiatives would issue.
January 11, 2007