in Chula Vista, California style
Many thanks to Asylum Watch for re-posting this from Geeez Blog.
Recently, the Chula Vista, California Police Department ran an
e-mail forum with the local community (a question and answer exchange)
with the topic being, Community Policing.” One of the civilian
e-mail 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.
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
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
The tools available to us are as follow:
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: “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 to determine why they didn’t want to talk
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
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’s a really cool system that we’ve 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’t harass me.” It’s one of our favorites.
Hopefully sir, this has clarified to you a little bit better how we harass the good citizens of Chula Vista.