Monday, September 27, 2010
There was a time during my police career when prisoner rights seemed to exceed citizen rights. Judges were forcing federal, state and local government agencies that were operating prisons and jails to provide inmates with at least 80 square feet of living space. They also had to provide access to fully paid legal advice, medical services, education and library services in the jail, three square meals per day, all approved clothing, personal hygiene items, counseling, etc, etc, etc, .
When housing space “rights” were being violated judges would order jail doors opened and all inmates that did not have at least 80 square feet of living space were turned loose. Sometimes dozens of criminals would be released to re-victimize innocent citizens again, knowing there was no room in jail to hold them. It was in this environment that this episode occurred.
I was working the 4 PM to 2 AM shift and it was about 10 PM and I was just getting ready to eat my sandwich and a few celery sticks when 911 dispatched me to an apartment complex in the lower southeast area of town. This was a rough neighborhood where crime was a way of live. Its criminals and victims all knew how to avoid the police and use the police to their advantage.
A young female had delivered a baby just a few days earlier and her boyfriend was the father of the baby. I will call him goofball and he was over for a visit and a disagreement ensued. Goofball became aggressive and started to threaten the young mother with violence. The argument escalated until goofball grabbed the baby by one of his legs and opened a bedroom window then dangled the child out the window with one hand. Goofball threatened to drop the child two stories to the asphalt pavement in the parking lot below if he didn’t get his selfish way.
A neighbor arriving home witnessed this extremely reckless behavior and immediately called 911 to seek help for the baby. As I arrived goofball was still dangling the baby out the window so I too became a witness. I called for fire rescue to put a catch net under the window to catch the child if goofball wasn’t willing to comply with my directions and decided to drop the child. I then stayed under the baby to try and catch him if dropped.
Goofball was half drunk and ranting and ravening while holding the child out of the window. He wanted to know why the police always took the woman’s side in an argument. I continued to engage him in conversation until fire rescue arrived and set up the net. I then yelled to the mother to open her apartment door and despite her boyfriend’s objections she opened the door. Cover officers had arrived to assist me, so if he decided to jump out a window he would be detained.
Once inside I directed goofball to bring the child back inside and give him to his mother. Realizing through his drunken, stupid stupor, that he didn’t have many options he complied and I arrested him for reckless endangering.
At jail Corrections Officers would often make Police Officers wait for 45 minutes to an hour to book a prisoner to discourage officers from bring prisoners to jail so they didn’t have to deal with jail overcrowding. Police Officers did become discouraged and often did not bring prisoner to jail because they did not want to wait for an hour to book a prisoner. Instead officers would just issue them a summons and released them on the spot.
I did take this prisoner to jail and waited while he was booked. After he was accepted I drove to a nearby parking lot to finish my report and eat my lunch. As I was just finishing my cold sandwich dispatch called me to break away from my lunch. They dispatched me to see a man dangling a baby out of a second story apartment window. I informed the dispatcher I was just finishing my reports for that call and had booked this person into jail.
Dispatch assured me this was an active incident, at the same address and that this time the mother had called the police. I was sure this was a mistake but I ran code three back to the apartment house only to find goofball dangling the baby out of the window again threatening to drop the child if he didn’t get his selfish way in the argument with the child’s mother.
The jail had released him as quickly as they had booked him because of overcrowding. I repeated the rescue scenario again and this time I called a judge, in the middle of the night, to request a detainer be placed on this person to protect the child. The detainer was issued and the jail had to release someone else back into the community.
The Lord’s solution to the bulging criminal population is for us to love each other as the Lord loves us. Jesus tells us in John 13: 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. To learn how to help stop crime by loving one another - click here Mormon.org
Posted by Elder Watts at 8:44 AM