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"Bastard Officer From Hell Goes to Court" by Troy H. Cheek on Oct 23, 2006
Twelve years as a security officer and I'd somehow managed never to get called into court because of it. Which is funny in and of itself because when most people who've known me for long hear that I work Security, they seem to think that it would happen with some regularity.
Of course, they also seem to assume that I'd be the one on trial.
I'd managed this with a combination of three techniques:
As for the first item, I'm sure I could dig through my books long enough and come up with some quote from Mark Twain or Lewis Grizzard or somebody that says something along the lines of "A growling dog seldom has to bite." It's far easier to scare people away and keep them from committing a crime in the first place than it is to catch them at that crime and convict them in a court of law.
The official name for this is deterrence. It works wonders. Just as nobody with a lick of common sense is going to come into a yard and try to pet a dog who's growling and barking, neither is anyone with any degree of intelligence going to scale a fence to go two out of three rounds with the guy who styles himself as the Bastard Officer From Hell. I let them know who I am and what I'm about, and they'd have to be a fool to cross me.
Then again, law breakers are not always known for their intelligence.
This brings us to item two, which is second chances. Sure, they're where they're not supposed to be, probably up to no good, but I can't necessarily prove anything. But I don't have to prove anything just to be able to send them along on their merry little ways.
"What are you doing here? Don't you know you're not supposed to be here? I'm sure you know you're not supposed to be here! Are you trying to get into trouble? Do you want to go to jail? Are you asking me to call the police and tell them to come get you? Is that what it's going to take to make sure you leave and don't come back?"
Seconds later, I'm waving goodbye as they head for the hills. No police involvement, no swearing of a complaint, no criminal charges. I gave them a nice friendly little warning and they chose to heed it.
At least, that's how it looks in the report.
In the third case, when someone ignores the friendly little warning or has actually done something wrong, one can generally foist the police report off on somebody else.
"Well, since it was your pocket book that was stolen, the police will probably want to talk to you anyway, so I'll give them your name when I call it in."
"Well, I am responsible for building security, but you're the one renting the office and you're the one with reasons not to want him coming back. Perhaps you'd better be the one to explain it to the police."
"Well, that didn't really happen on hospital property, so I don't really have any authority to investigate it. I'll be happy to contact the local police department for you, though."
"As senior officer on the shift, it might be better if you took charge of this."
"As the first officer on the scene, you need to be the one writing the report."
"As the officer most familiar with the suspect, it might be better if you're the one talking with the police."
"As a new hire, you need to learn how to assist the police in their investigations. Let's start with this case here..."
"Well, officer, it's not so much me wanting to file charges. This comes down from the hospital administration. I can give them a call for you..."
But finally there came the day when I just couldn't avoid having my name on the official police report as "complainant."
I growled, but he came onto the property anyway.
I gave him a second chance, but he came back and committed a crime.
I managed to get somebody else assigned as primary complainant for that crime, but the police couldn't find him. I found him, and since he was wanted for questioning in connection with said crime, I couldn't just chase him off again. I had to call the police.
"Say, isn't this the same guy we took report on last week?" the nice police officer asked me.
Sigh. "Yes, officer. I believe it is."
"Didn't you say something about giving him a trespass warning when you first saw him?"
"Yes, I did. I was going to come down to the station and swear out a complaint, but I didn't actually see him when he alledgedly returned to commit that other crime, so I couldn't honestly swear it was the same guy I gave the trespass warning to. Plus, the other crime was so much more serious, I didn't think trespassing would even come up."
"Well, it did. Now, if you'll talk to my trainee over there, he'll be doing the actual report. In fact, my name won't even be on it..."
Unfortunately, I didn't have a trainee that day.
The actual day in court was rather a let down, seeing as we never actually got our day in court.
I got there early, went back and forth through the metal detector until they realized that my badge was setting it off, and signed in. I had to sweat it out in the waiting area for an hour or so.
I was sweating because I'd worn my long sleeve uniform shirt, which looks much more professional on me than my standard short sleeved one, or so people keep telling me, and because I had to sit in a sunlit room surrounded by misplaced Floridians who felt that the moderately cool Fall morning required the thermostat to be set somewhere around the melting temperature of lead.
I was also sweating because my father likes to remind me that it's not just the people accused of a crime who can end up found in contempt of court. He's just certain that one of these days I'm going to say something smart and end up in jail.
I was also sweating because the other people involved in the case hadn't shown up yet. As it turned out, seeing as the suspect -- or "defendant" as he was now called -- was accused of several different crimes, they didn't need all of us at the same time, even though they were taking care of all the crimes in the same trial. And, as it turns out, they didn't even really need me for the trespass part. I was in the court records as "hospital representative" and it was simply coincidence that I was the security officer who actually caught the defendant trespassing.
However, as luck would have it, the defendant had apparently missed his court-ordered psychiatric evaluation to determine his fitness to be tried this day. He'd missed it two weeks before. They'd issued a bench warrant for his arrest and he'd been picked up one week before. He was even now less than 500 feet away locked securely in a cell.
Where, they told me, he was going to be held until sometime the next week when he'd finally get that evaluation. The trial was rescheduled for the next month.
I tried to sneak out, with plans to tell the hospital administration that as owners and controllers of the property, perhaps it would be better if they came to the trial to represent the hospital, when the clerk gave me the new summons, which unfortunately had my name on it instead of just "hospital representative."
That's what I get for givng them my real name when I signed in. Next time, I'm signing in as "Hospital Q. Representative, Esq."
Copyright 2006 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to
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|This page last updated on Oct 23, 2006 by Troy H. Cheek|