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Online Community Lesson

 

What 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 here:

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 lessonanswers@mymontebello.com, 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 department.
(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 emergency.
(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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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