So… this is just a posting of my days at work. I’m curious about how interesting it will be found. I’m also curious as to reactions. So my day will soon be over and I will put in the first entry.
I am actually going to start with something I wrote last week, on the last day of my shift, and then work my way up from there.
September 25th, 2004, Saturday
It is the last day of my day work shift for this week. It is Saturday morning, but you’d never know it from how busy the Dunkin Donughts was. I woke up late, as I am prone to do on day work. Fortunately mom was great, got the dogs out for me, so I was able to dash out of the house after giving everyone a quick hug. Those hugs help me get through the day when I think about it.
Today is my first day to attempt to keep a journal of my calls, incidents, and the things I deal with. I wonder how interesting this will become. Maybe I’ll put it online soon, and let people know what life is like here. I’m not perfect, but I’ll try to be honest when I have an attitude and when I don’t, we will see.
Its 0722 as I look at the computers clock. I have a guy standing up front waiting to serve a warrant to an officer that is not here. Only he is not going to come in today, he took off. He called a bit ago and I just found out, after spending 40 minutes looking for him. He wants to know why the guy is and will call back shortly, and I’ll tell him that its for a warrant service which he won’t come and get and I’ll wind up stuck with dealing with him. That is very annoying.
As I came in, things where fine, I admit I was running late. I got my hot tea, since I don’t drink coffee, and roared on up the road. I had to get gas as well, since I forgot last night and got in the car with the gaslight on. Nice, eh?
Anyway, I walk through the doors to the sound of screaming children. At 0630 in the morning, that is not what you want to hear. There was a woman, and her two small kids, probably 2 and 3, running around the lobby. What she needed, I did not know at that time. I asked the people getting off shift, and they said she was taken care of as they packed up for the day. I couldn’t get to my desk; one of the officers was checking the transmittals for a report he had turned in.
(Transmittals are the forms that record the case numbers of the reports sent to the records department. All reports are sent to records and only a copy of accident reports are kept here because we go through so many. We average 1400 calls a day, and probably ¾ have reports written. That is a lot of paper.)
There was also a guy standing up front, so I went storming around looking for the officer he needed. Then I came back up front, the officer called and told me he won’t be coming in. I finally get my desk back, can log in, to find that the person in front of me did not put in the lineups, but then that person never does if it can be avoided.
It turns out that the woman was abducted and forced into sexual acts and the commissioner only wanted to issue a second degree assault warrant, so the officers where trying to get that fixed up.
So I go the gentleman settled. I told him the officer was not in and that I’d try to find out if he is supposed to be in tomorrow or not. I hate this part of it. The games and having to deal with upset people. Even polite upset people are still upset and you get the backlash of emotions. My problem is I actually care, and it’s hard to deal with.
So I have my bagel and hot tea, which will hopefully raise my blood sugar and relax me. I’m not a morning person and walking into a bunch of issues and having people stare at you, expecting you to assist them becomes tiring when you have not yet been awake for an hour.
So, now that it is quite for a moment, as Saturday mornings tend to be, I’ll run a quick explanation of my job.
I’m a clerk for a police station in a very busy part of America. My office happens to be attached to the HQ for my PD, so we get a lot of people. We are also situated in the center of the community and have perhaps the worst district in the area when it comes to crime.
My office is a small room, maybe 15 x 10. ¾ of my front window. Beside it is a small 5 x 5 bathroom. As I type this, a drunken man stands at the front window and says, “I would say something to try to humor you, but I’m scared to.” My response is a puzzled, “May I help you with something sir?” He tells me, “No. I am drunk, and I crashed my trunk into someone. An old black lady.” I nod and he wanders off across the lobby. That would explain the stack of citations in his hand. A few minutes ago he asked me for a manila envelope and one of my midnight shift officers was in here. Now I know why.
I am fortunate to have cable television and a computer that connects to the Internet. I also have an open front door that never closes and five phone lines with just me to handle it all. I often have the TV on but rarely watch it. The citizens waiting spend more time watching then I do. As for the phone, I won’t comment on it. Five phone lines and one person do not mix well.
I visit a chatroom while I am here. It gives me something to do, to relax myself, to stretch out my mind. We’re discussing the need for p2p file sharing on the web and the unhappiness we have with people who won’t share their files.
Now a call that starts with “I need some advice”. It seems that her neighbor harasses everyone in the area. And she screams and curses at everyone all of the time. It seems that the lady may be a bit off in the head and threatens. The lady says she knows a county commissioner and no one will serve papers on the woman. And this citizen feels that she should not have to go beyond the closest commissioners office. It is not fair because she too is a taxpayer. So I had to tell her to calm down and let me speak a couple times as she tells me what this lady is doing to harass them. I told her to go to the regional office and find this commissioner’s supervisor if he is not doing his duty it will be investigated. She kept complaining that it was too inconvenient, she is to busy and this is ridiculous.
Where I work, the police department does little to do with the court. Warrants, summons, serving papers, all of that is done by the sheriff. Also the court system is not connected to our department. So we explain that to people daily, often to their disgust, as they feel the police should be able to help them. Well we can, within the extent of our abilities. I gave her a solution and after she told me for the third time that she just wanted peace and quiet I told her that if she wanted something done, she would have to act upon this issue or deal with the abuse. So she said she would go, but we will see. Sometimes you can’t sit there and not attack a situation, especially after ten years of pacifism.
Ah, a nice call to check if we have found a stolen vehicle. A very common call and need, but we had not yet recovered the vehicle.
Pet peeve #1: Don’t call and ask for information and not have a pen
Caller says that their husbands work vehicle was towed from their housing area. The tow company says that there are to be no work vehicles. The HOA contract does not state no work vehicles. I referenced the caller to the tow coordination unit and told them that it was not a police matter, but a civil issue between them, and the tow company for breach of contract.
Ahh, it happens everyday. Someone walks up and asks for an accident report. I look in the report cabinet, and tell them that it is not yet in. Their arms drop, their face goes flat, and you can see the dark aura over them as they ask “How much longer?” Each time I look at them and tell them that honestly, I cannot tell them, but that it should be soon and let me leave a message for the officer that the report is needed immediately. Sometimes its just glares, sometimes it raises to full fledged conformation. Today it was just a glare, a sigh, and tense anger.
The things that I get called for.
Now I have a complaint against an officer. An officer is being accused of harassing the residents of the complex dealing with someone in the building. The person on the phone has issues with another woman in the building. The woman is dating the cop, and the one on the phone now says the officer is harassing her children, cursing at them, and blocking the intersection and the building. She feels that the woman she has had issues with in the past has informed the officer about their problems, and that he is now going out of his way to harass she, and her children. Now tired of this now and wishes to complain. She has his first name and his car number. Now she goes into the ranting about how she pays her bills and such and doesn’t deserve it. Now she has blamed the women’s children for messing up her car doors and wants to go after the officer for it, feeling it’s his fault. She uses “scared” to describe the damage to her car, and asks me to call her when we discover who the officer is. I will inform some supervisors about it to have it investigated, but with the small amount of information given, tracking him down will not be easy.
Vehicle releases. A major aspect of my job. We have, at this point in time, over 15,000 stolen vehicle reports for my county per year. So we do up to a hundred release a day as we find the vehicles. However, as you access the impound system you have to make sure to read the entire impound information, which often states “Do not release” or “Hold”. These are vehicles involved in some type if investigation. There is also the “Asset Forfeiture” which tends to be for drugs, and of course, repos and general impoundments.
The gentleman I just dealt with, his vehicle was impounded by one of our special task force team members. I can go and ask that member if the vehicle can be released, but he is not here. So I informed the gentleman, and he told me that his lawyer told him the vehicle was to be released. I told him to have his lawyer contact the appropriate people and have the hold changed in the impound system, otherwise my hands where tied. I cannot believe what he says to me, no matter how much I’d wish to.
Another interesting thing comes with the leaving of messages. I was finished a conversation with a lady who has been leaving a message for someone. She wants to get a copy of a report directly from an officer instead of going through the records department as she has been told to do. So she is calling the officer daily, and basically harassing him. Now the thing about this is that he has communicated with her and she wishes to further the issue and is dissatisfied with her answer. So she asks me can I hand deliver a message?
Now perhaps I am a jerk, but the answer is no. For one, I cannot be assured that I will even see a said officer for weeks. So I will not take that type of responsibility. I will take a message and put it in an officer’s box. I have no problem with doing that and offer it to each person that wishes to speak to an officer, on duty or off. But it is not enough, and I will not promise to do things personally when I cannot be assured that I can even do the task.
So, someone calls that reported their vehicle stolen earlier in the day. The vehicle was recovered in another district. I thanked the person for being kind enough to inform us, and told him that the agency, which recovered his car, will remove it from the national database NCIC (National Crime Information Center). He then told me that he wanted a report because his vehicle had been damaged, and I told him he’d have to get the report from the agency that recovered his vehicle because it was outside of our jurisdiction. He started to get belligerent about wanting a report when someone in the background said “he gave you all the information when he called” and the man goes “oh” and hangs up. Nice.
Then someone wanders into the front and asks if I have change fro a dollar. Which I do not have. Remember, we are locate din a community, and as a public building we have a payphone out front, which people use all of the time. Well after I check and find that I don’t have change for a dollar he asks if I can spare fifty cents. I said no and apologized. Perhaps it is cold of me, but after a point, how much money do you give away? Yes it is only fifty cents, yet I’ve had many a day that I’ve needed change myself for things. I work for my money. I am even at work for my money on a Saturday morning. It means something to me, and considering that I have several people a day ask for change, I could easily burn through twenty dollars a week in people asking money for the phone. Often, if it is someone that is at the station because of a problem, I will let them use my cellular phone instead.
A gentleman just came up to the window for a report. Very friendly and cheerful. Someone tried to steal his car, but ran off when the alarm sounded and damaged it. However, he did not have the car with him, so I gave him his two options on how to address the situation. He could ether go home and call the counties non-emergency line to have someone come out, or he could bring the car back and I’d call someone in to make the report. But we’re going to have to see the vehicle to make the report.
He was a nice person. He offered to just come back and not take an officer off the street. I thanked him for his kindness but explained that I’d have to if he came back. We don’t have enough manpower to keep people in the station to take reports, even thou we get dozens a day.
A call for information. The problem with information is that until it is public domain it will not be shared. Friendship, sharing the parentage of a child, and being siblings and cousins do not necessarily mean you will be privy to information. This one was a sister of a woman who had reported child abuse the previous night. I sent her back to the detectives, but she will probably not gain the information that she seeks until she becomes part of the investigation.
And then another accident report picked up. Thankfully I had the report available. To many officers do not turn in their reports with enough speed, and the citizens call and call and call for them, and sadly, we at the front are the ones that bear the brunt of this. However I was able to hand her the report and information sheet without a problem. However she was unable to read or comprehend the report.
Accident reports are not complicated. You simply have to sit and read the entire thing. But many expect to instantly see the outcome they want on it, and turn to me and demand that I explain it to them. So I read the report, which said what happened and she goes “oh, okay”. Then she asks, “What is this?” and I said that his car was behind held by CID, as it states in the “Impounded at CID” section. She then points to the other half of the page, which is her cars information (she was the victim) and says “so it was left at the scene?” and didn’t realize that it was her own car, considering we had just discussed that the car had been removed by our CID. Okay, beyond that she assures herself of the insurance information and leaves.
It is almost noon so I’m eating lunch. I don’t get lunch breaks per say. I get to eat in-between things. So I just about start on my meal when she reappears and asks if the guy got a ticket. I tell her to check the report, if states if they are cited but driving, but she says that he was on drug and she wants to know. I told her to contact CID since they are handling the case.
Someone in to report stolen tags. I have to tell people to sit, I find, or they will stand at the window for long periods of time.
Pet Peeve #2
Not having the information needed to answer your question. It’s like not knowing your name and asking for a nametag.
Now, a call to see if a vehicle can be released. Her son was arrested over the weekend and the car is in both of their names. When I ask for the tag or VIN of the vehicle, she doesn’t have them. Now I have been put on hold as she looks for it. After several minutes she tells me she will call me back once she finds it.
Ahh, nice response time of less than ten minutes for the officer to get here for the report. Only problem is the guys tags where stolen in another jurisdiction. So we had to send him to that jurisdiction to make his report.
And the lady calls back. Sadly she cannot get the car. It is asset forfeiture and her son is still in jail. Chances are high its drug related.
Then a call for an officer. It just happened that the officer was standing in front of me, ready to take the report so I was able to get the information communicated and the gentleman is on his way up to meet said officer instead of hearing the entire story. Sometimes it’s interesting, but mostly of the time I have no need to hear the life story of the event, and I try to cut back when I can on hearing them.
Things do happen in the office. One of the detectives wandered up to figure out how to enlarge things on the copier. They like our copier better then theirs, so use it. We have petty good friendly relationships with lots of harassing. You don’t do well without gruff humor around here and a thick skin. Insults are friendly jokes, not something to run to the commander about. When someone is being nasty, it’s not laid back in the office harassing each other about making copies and giggling.
So a call about CDS (controlled dangerous substances). It seems that a lady’s neighbor is selling cocaine from her residence. The citizen is to scared to call, so told a friend that works for another police jurisdiction. They informed me, and I took down the information. Now, I get to send this info to another district, because it is outside of my own so I can’t give the info to my own people.
A call to speak with an officer who took the report. I informed the gentleman when the officer would be in, and he proceeds to tell me his story about having his home broken in. He was given a number to call, but no one has answered it, so he calls me back, even thou it is out of my hands. He feels that it is not right no one has helped him and he wants me to make a change. However, he needs to wait to be contacted by the people he was given the number to. He then says that he thinks he knows who is doing it and no one wishes to help him. So I tell him that if he thinks he knows who is doing this he needs to go to the commissioner and have a warrant taken out against the person if he can prove this information. He didn’t like that and felt that it was to in convent, but that is the procedure for this type of situation and always will be.
Pet Peeve #3 Asking for the date when it is on the document in front of you.
In between that I had a vehicle release to write up. Nothing major, and actually my first one written today. However, she asked me what the date is. The citizens have to sign the release in two locations and I sign it in one. One location that they sign in is directly above my signature, which also has the date. The date is also at the top of the page. Yet, daily, I am asked for almost every report what the day is instead of a second taken to scan the sheet and see if it is there after I just signed and dated it in front of them.
Then a call from someone delivering a package. He was on the other side of the building and quite irritated no one was at the front. I explained that he was over on the wrong side of the building, and he said that he had a package for a detective. I asked if the package stated where it needed to go and he snarled “No, but it has a number.” So I asked if he had called that number, since that part of the building is not related to mine and again I am told “No I called this one”, but I had that settled by another detective agency that could get him the information he needed.
Then a stolen tag report came in, so I asked her to have a seat while the officer finished up his previous report.
Now shock, surprise, and amazement. A vehicle release form is needed. But she did not have her vehicle information. When I told her that she could just go to the tow company and they would get it out for her, she was ecstatic and ran right off to the tow company. Normally people get mad that someone did not tell them to have it, or mad that they keep their title and registration in the car and feel it is unreasonable for us to want to see that as proof of ownership.
Then I released another car. Nice, easy simple, just writing the stuff down.
And the stolen tag report was taken by my officer. Once again, a nice fast response time and a happy citizen.
Then a gentleman called looking for an accident report. He’s been looking for it for weeks and hunting down the officers that took it. So it’s been an intricate game of phone tag and no one is getting anyone. He says records says they do not have it. Which, sadly, is often a lie. They just haven’t gotten around to logging it in yet. But I don’t have it in my drawer so it may be the truth.
And another call for someone that had a stolen vehicle. Only they wish to add the items that where in the car to the report, but they are now out of town. We don’t really have a telephone-reporting unit available, so it complicates things when people don’t make their report complete with the initial taking.
Then an interesting question. A gentleman was turned down for a job because the background check said he had a felony. I directed him tot eh state police to get copies of his background incase something is incorrectly logged on. If not, he can sue the place he applied to.
Call for an officer
Call for information about a hit and run. The woman said that she chased the other driver, but she was advised to stop. An officer met up with her and took the information, ran the tag and had the driver’s information handed to her. However, when she attempted to contact the drivers insurance company they gave her the run around and said that she needed to find out what city the address was located in, because it didn’t match their records. I told her the smart thing to do was to go through her own insurance company and not attempt to go through theirs and get the run around, but she didn’t agree. So I suggested she contact the city and ask what part the address was from, since we do not have that information.
Then the young lady returned who had to get her registration from her vehicle. Only when I ran the vehicle the VIN did not come back. And the case number she gave me did not come back. However, I did a general search on vehicles impounded with that cares make and year and found her vehicle. One number had been transposed, so that went smoothly once corrected.
Honesty can be hard to maintain. The easy out, a white lie, calls at every corner. A citizen calls and says that she called the nonemergency line to report her vehicle being broken into and it’s been over an hour and no response. I sent her back to dispatch so that they could give her an ETA but the problem is, it is not a priority. The vehicle has been vandalized, there are a limited number of officers since our recourses are half what they should be. It is going to be a wait, and everyone will tell that, but no one wants to hear it and I’m not supposed to tell people that due to man power we don’t have the staff to get to you immediately, and that it may be a few hours.
Next I had the please of explaining how vehicles are placed into a national database when they are reported stolen. Sadly, some people know all about it, having dealt with this several times throughout the years. This lady was very worried, and I told her to check with us twice a day to see if her vehicle had been recovered as well as try surrounding jurisdictions to help her expiate the process of getting her vehicle.
Now for an amusing side. One of the officers asked what I was doing with all of the typing. I told him that I was keeping track of my day so he asked me to include his request for a printout of his calls for the day. So this is his includement. Chuckle.
Before he came in, however, I had another officer give me the pool car keys to hand to the supervisor for the next shift. It is amazing the access to things that I have.
Now a couple has walked into the door, so I stand to go and help them. They say that a tow company that services their apartment complex is taking peoples cars that are legitimately parked. So I referenced them tot eh tow coordination unit that handles tow company claims, hopefully it will be resolved. Some tow companies, sadly, are shady.
Then a nice couple that needed to go to the tow company and get their proof of ownership out. They asked me to call the tow company to make sure they could, so I did so. The will probably be back shortly and can get their release.
Also, a guy called to get a copy of the hit and run report taken on his wife. He also said that there was an indentation of the tag left in his car, so I told them to have a continuation report made with the information in hopes that further investigation would find the person that hit her.
Ahh, the shift ends soon. I’ve transcribed my notes for the officers and put them in their boxes. My paperwork is sorted, logged, and in the mail for records and the next shift has started to trickle in. I think that I will do a bit of running around once I’m out of here since this is also the last day of my shift. I move on to midnights next Tuesday, and won’t be back in this part of town until then.
Or maybe not. I just found out the person that relives me injured themselves the previous night. So now I have to wait for them to find someone to relive me on the desk. So now I enter lineups and wait. And the officer who is in light duty, I have just been told, plans to be several hours late.
Well, the other clerk may or may not come in. Everyone is up in the air about it. I did get something of an amusing call. A lady asked if someone had been transferred to my district and I told her no officer by that name was here. Turns out, it is someone with a warrant that was in another county and mine was going to go and get them. Confusion can be amusing.
But I am sad, and tired. I’d like to go home now, and I have to wait until someone relives me. I can’t just get up and leave. That’s going AWOL even thou my shift is over. But she is here and I can go.