Why do cops get to harass people?

I don’t often straight plagiarize or just post something someone else has written…but the BlogStocker sent me something I couldn’t resist posting. Please to enjoy…

Recently, the Chula Vista Police Department ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, “Community Policing.”

One of the civilian email participants posed the following question: “I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?”

From the “other side” (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:

“First of all, let me tell you this…it’s not easy. In Chula Vista , we average one cop for every 600 people. Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “patrol”) where we do most of our harassing.

The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. And at any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass.

The tools available to us are as follows:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. “My neighbor is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment.

Another popular one is, “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver’s licenses and the like. It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

STATUTES: When we don’t have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called “Statutes”; Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc… They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people.

After you read the statute, you can just drive around for awhile until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there’s this book we have that says that’s not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well.

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.

Next time you are in my town, give me the old “single finger wave.” That’s another one of those codes. It means, “You can harass me.” It’s one of our favorites.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

21 thoughts on “Why do cops get to harass people?

  1. That is perfect!

    It's international, you know. Just this morning I saw a police officer harassing a bloke outside my office. And he hadn't done anything at all except drive around, chatting on his phone, in a car with no tax or insurance!

  2. Oh that must have been euphoric, getting to write that into an official public forum. Love it.

  3. While funny, this is disappointing because it ignores the fact that harassment of citizens (particularly low income citizens) by police can and does actually happen.

    In full, this is a slightly amusing, self-congratulatory, I'll-reasoned piece of writing by a cop who would rather laugh off a problem than address it.

  4. That cop has a future in standup if his day job harassing people doesn't work out for him.

  5. Andrew…

    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're not a cop.

    You've no idea how truly funny this is unless you've walked in our shoes/boots.

  6. Well *I* feel slighted, spent 48 hours in Chula Vista last week and was not harassed once.

    But I did struggle pushing the dollar bills into the South Bay Expressway toll machine.


  7. This is just all too true. It isn't like that old movie "The Day After Tomorrow" where everyone has a robot following them around for crime prevention. The officer may have posted in a joking manner, but his post was all too factual. The ratio of officers to civilians is nowhere near enough for "harassment."

    Ah well, just another example of what happens when someone asks a weighted and logically fallacious question. ("Have you stopped beating your wife yet?)

    Andrew, what's your source for the harassment of citizens (particularly low income) that makes it a fact?

    Why do you think that the post was ill reasoned?

    Without an answer to those two questions, it's nothing more than an assertion.

    The officer didn't laugh at the problem, he explained some facts in a satirical manner. He did a great job supporting those facts and the argument is deductively sound.

    Police "harass" those who break the law. There's no particular group that is singled out. Although, you could argue (to support your low income profiling assertion) that a wealthy individual is much less likely to walk out of the local circle k with a 12 pack without paying as opposed to one of those "low income" or "no income" folks.

    Then again, do you think a patrol officer is going to catch that same wealthy individual working a stock market ponzi scheme compared to the "low income" fella stealing the beer?

    Probably not, but they can still pull over the likes of Mel Gibson ! Celebrity harassment then?


  8. Andrew – yes, police harassment can be an issue, but the original questioner didn't seem to be raising a concern about a specific incident or even type of incident.

    I suspect if he had, he would have recieved a more formal response.

  9. This was beyond hilarious – I've read it about 5 times and I still laugh, but…always a but in there. We have to bite our tongues SO often in public service sometimes to the point of the tip of our tongues falling off – I just wonder what sort of (if any) reprimand befell him.

  10. Andrew,
    Let me get this straight, law enforcement shouldn't happen to those considered low income? Are you daft or just a plain idiot? Being low income, doesn't give you a pass nor does it mean you're stupid. We ALL follow the same laws whether we have jobs/money or not. A way to rectify the problem is not to commit crimes. Don't do the crime and you won't go to jail. It's as simple as that.

  11. "Andrew…

    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're not a cop.

    You've no idea how truly funny this is unless you've walked in our shoes/boots."

    Yep, I'm not a cop. But that doesn't mean that I can't recognize someone ignoring the very real existence of police harassment.

    I'm not trying to say that people can't have their fun. But it's disheartening, at the same time, to see the idea of police harassment and abuse of power laughed off as though it's not a major concern.

  12. Andrew,

    You seem to be listening a little bit too closely to those claiming to be "harassed", and not looking closely enough at the facts.

    And by facts, I do not mean what the news media chooses to pass on to you.

    I have several "regulars" in Smithville who I regularly stop and chat with. These are not people I randomly choose. They are people I know to be on probation, parole, or those I have contacted regarding a specific crime they have committed.

    If I see such a person roaming around my city, it is my obligation to stop them and find out why such a probationer, parolee or thief is doing such roaming around my fair city.

    Being "low-income" has nothing to do with why I stop people. I don't drive up and ask "Yo, how much you make?" before deciding to stop an individual. I look at things I know or suspect to be fact.

    These "repeat offenders" will regularly ask me "Why y'all always harass people?"

    My answer is that being put on probation or parole opens you up, legally, to all sorts of "harassment". By that same token, committing a crime in my city and returning at a later date also opens you up to the same "harassment".

    My guess is that you have been listening to too many of these parolees, probationers and petty criminals who insist the repeated police contact is "harassment".

    In reality, it's just good police work. As evidenced by the number of "harassment" induced arrests we see in Smithville on a regular basis.

  13. Andrew. i believe you are absolutely right. there is no excuse for laughing at the neglect of peoples human, civil, and amendment rights. Us citizens do have many Rights. and it is the police who are sworn not only to uphold them, but also to follow them. in these sad times it seems to be apparent that in some cases, it is the police whom are the criminals. i am a convicted criminal, and yes i get harassed all the time. it does truly seem that the police are violating my rights. i do believe that people can and do change, and that people need chances in life. it is in human nature to make mistakes and for a law inforcement personel to judge and assume things that are beyond their knowledge is truly ignorant and indeed a violation of rights. none the less this article in my opinion is still funny, being that it is a very open ended question that the officer was asked and he mearly explained that they harass people because sometimes, they are doing wrong. of course this is only my opinion. oh yeah according to the statute Harassment is typically interaction that serves no legitimate purpose. so technically this is not a case of harassment

  14. if a police officer has 36000 seconds to "harass" 10000 people, not counting into affect a lunch brake, he would only have 3.6 seconds to harass each person, or 1 second each and then 2.6 seconds to eat a donut and find someone new to harass…lol sorry i am into math and i believe he may have underestimated the time it took to consume the donuts

  15. when the civil rights lawsuits start overwhelming your budget you will have to start harassing a lot more carfully which is NOW! I think they collect $800000 per lawsuit! HInt big gov, FYI ha ha

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