link A strange police encounter← Back

So I'm outside my back door when I hear a very loud "boom" ... let me clarify that's not a "bang" but a definitive "boom," and I see three guys go running into their garage and shut the door, with some obscenities and a "we should probably go in.

"This is the kind of thing I feel should be reported to the police," I think, as I see a very large column of smoke rising between a car and an adjacent garage.

So I call the non-emergency line, report that this incident was behind my house but I'm not certain of the address, but I describe the building into which they ran, the car, the garage, and the general character of the "boom" and the smoke.

The officer responds about 10 minutes later, driving very slowly.  I walk up to his car to indicate that I'm the one who called. "i called about a small explosion," I say when he rolls his window down.

young officer:  "well that's why I'm here"

me: "Good, see it happened around back, as I told the dispatcher.  Look by the silver SUV and the beige garage"

young officer: "i'll check it out in a minute.  What do you think it was?"

me: "well, it was much louder than a firecracker... my guess would be maybe a small pipe bomb or something"

The officer proceeded to leisurely drive around the block to my alley.  He got out of his car and looked VERY BRIEFLY where I suggested the smoke was emanating from, and then proceeded to examine the areas around the rest of the house much more closely.  He stopped to talk to the driver of a second patrol car sent to the scene before coming again to talk to me.

young officer: "well I didn't see anything so I don't know what you want me to do" (emphasis mine)

me: (thinking he wanted help) "Well, I saw the smoke rising in that very first area you looked"

young officer: "i looked all around the house and i didn't see anything suspicious or any damage to anything. Since I can't prove who did what I don't know what you want me to do."

Now, I'm starting to get the idea that he feels this is not worth his time, as complaints go.  Heck, maybe he's right.  

This encounter went on for a while, with him apparently wanting some instruction from me on what to do, and me providing increasing detail on the event I witnessed.  He seemed to want to give me the impression that he cared but also wanted me to just leave him alone.  He left me with the impression that he cared just enough to act completely helpless. 

Really, all I wanted was someone to come check it out and make sure there wasn't going to be an apartment building fire.  If he had just said he'd check it out and left me to wonder I would have been completely satisfied.  It was a bizzare combination of him not caring enough to take what to me seemed like obvious steps in investigating the situation, but wanting desparately for me to approve of his lackluster attempts to check it out.

A note to young police officers:  Acting like you know what you're doing is more important than actually knowing what you're doing in a lot of situations.  This was one of them.  Don't they teach this at the academy?

I'm not a student.  I understand you guys got bigger fish to fry, really I do.  Just say so and be on your way.  I won't be offended.




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