The Police Have Literally Never Helped Me
But They’ve Wrongly Accused Me, Stopped Me Without Reason and Unlawfully Detained Me
I’m not one of those people who dislikes all cops. I find the job they do to be admirable and courageous — when done within the confines of the law and for the right reasons. It’s that last part I struggle with though.
While I’m sure the large majority of officers in law enforcement live up to their sworn oath to protect and serve and do so unconditionally, without bias — I’ve too often come in contact with the ones who don’t, for the police to be my first phone call when I am unlawfully wronged. It’s been my experience, cops seem to be nowhere around when you need them and right there behind you at the exact moment you need them not to be — whether because you just made an illegal turn, have a tendency to speed or have a dead hooker in the trunk.
They always seemed to be around when I was doing wrong as a kid but were unsuccessful in righting any wrong done to myself and loved ones, on the few and far between occasions I actually called them for help. Where I grew up, people tend to do their own dirty laundry, so to speak, as opposed to depending on police. I’m not stating it’s right, I don’t think it’s cool, it’s just the reality. If someone takes something from you, you take it back. If someone hits you, you hit them back. And so on and so forth. Welcome to Philadelphia.
While I understand the Philadelphia Police Department is overwhelmed with calls and the amount of serious crimes they’re obliged to respond to on any given day, the amount of time it takes them to actually arrive when you call them decreases their chances of genuinely being able to help you exponentially. A large part of the reason I hesitate to even call them, when others would.
In 2007, my girlfriend at the time worked a block and a half away from where we lived. When her shift wasn’t over until after midnight, I’d typically go and meet her to walk her home anyway, just to be safe. However, on this particular night, I had to be up at 4 AM for work the next morning so we both agreed it was best I get my sleep. Of course, this was the night she would end up being robbed at gunpoint on her way home.
She stormed in our bedroom, screaming and crying, practically shaking in fear. I quickly awoke and she told me what happened. A half of a block away from our house, a guy crept up behind her, held a gun to her head and told her to drop her purse, which she did. He took it and ran. She said she saw a cop car sitting in the 7–11 parking lot down the street, as it happened.
As stupid as it was, my initial reaction was to grab one of the three authentic samurai swords we had displayed on the mantle in the living room and go find the dude who just needlessly stuck a gun to the head of the woman I loved, for a total of 43 cents. I figured it was probably a drug addict with a pellet gun. She begged me not to and eventually physically did her best to stop me from walking out the door and said we should call the police. While I knew she was right, I also knew it wouldn’t help.
We called and they showed up 25 minutes later. We met them out front, as I smoked a fair amount of pot at the time and figured it was best they not come in. An overweight, seasoned and seemingly jaded officer showed up and asked if him and his partner could come in, I stated her sister was inside sleeping and I’d rather they take the report out there. Well you would have thought I was the guy who just robbed my girlfriend, from the way they treated me and essentially us, from that point on. They kept telling both of us to calm down and had an overall lack of empathy, compassion or urgency.
After they finally got done taking down a bunch of information that wasn’t going to help them find the guy who did it, they asked if we’d like to take a ride around the neighborhood, in hopes we were able to spot him and she was able to identify him as the man who robbed her, so we did. While we found a guy who happened to be wearing the exact outfit my girlfriend said the perpetrator was wearing, she said it wasn’t him.
They dropped us off shortly after, we never heard another thing from them again and the man who did it was never found. Which just left me feeling like I should have went full samurai instead of calling the police.
I’ve been stopped by police for “fitting a description” or without any real stated reason at all well over a dozen times in my life, mainly in my teens and twenties. Life got easier once I realized they considered baggy hoodies the street criminal uniform as opposed to just a terrible fashion trend of the time. One of those times, I had pot on me and though the person who called them came out and stated I had nothing to do with why they called, they had already searched me and found the pot. The officer told the man who called them “it was too late for me” and I spent the following 27 hours in a cell, with four other actual criminals. Meanwhile, they let the 4 kids who were smoking pot behind his house and he called them about go.
Again, I’m not trashing police officers, I’m just stating my stance and sharing my experience. To all those who go out and put their lives on the line everyday, in an effort to make the neighborhoods, towns and cities they live and work in a better place, I commend and thank you. I just probably won’t be calling anytime soon. I hope I’m never in a situation where I have to actually.