08 December 2005

Everybody Is A Star

Well, at least now we know what the San Francisco Police Department has been up to in lieu of catching murderers and robbers. With gang violence spiralling out of control and murders at their highest rate in years, the city's cops, never among the nation's most efficient, have been amusing themselves by making a series of funny videos. Chief Heather Fong, rather than leading her troops out to take back the streets, is so "disappointed and disgusted" that she's suspended at least 20 of them.

Never mind, says Fong; there will still be more than enough police to deal with the city's crime problem. But how would she know, one of the suspended officers contends: ""We're outgunned. We're outmanned," Cohen said. "The fact of the matter is that she has an out-of-control department. She lives in the Bayview and has never stopped by the station to see her own officers."

A chaotic and inept Police Department is nothing new in the City That Doesn't Know How To Do Much Of Anything Except Fleece Tourists: I remember back in the 70s watching a man break into a car parked in front of my house. I called the police, and as he casually rifled through the glove box and removed the stereo by demolishing the dashboard, I noticed that a cop car had arrived at the end of my block. I called 911 again and told him that the thief was getting away.

"The police are on their way," I was told. "No they're not," I said, "they're parked down at the end of my block." "I'm sure they'll be there soon," she said, and hung up.

By that time the thief had disappeared around the corner, and once it was obvious that he was safely away, the police car pulled out from where it had been idling and drove up to where I was now standing on the sidewalk next to the burglarised car. "He went that way," I said, pointing to the corner. "Sir, would you please keep your hands up in the air where we can see them and step away from the vehicle?" came the response.

They frisked me, questioned me about the car break-in, and were on the verge of arresting me before I managed to convince them that I was the one who'd reported the break-in in the first place. By now the burglar was halfway across town, and it was obvious that the cops were madder at me for calling them than at him for robbing cars on their beat.

"Anyway," I said, why did you wait down the block until he was finished breaking into the car and getting away?" "Sometimes police work requires a more measured approach, sir," they said blandly, simultaneously suggesting that I should measure my own approach back into my house and stop bothering them. With that they turned around and casually drove off in the direction they had come from.

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