Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fighting crime, one desperado at a time

Monday, I told the story of wasting the day in Omaha testifying at a committee hearing on an interim study commissioned by the Nebraska Legislature. It wasn't a total waste, though. The hearing was in the Omaha City Council's chambers--on the second floor of the Omaha/Douglas County Civic Center. During the morning testimony, I stepped out into the foyer to handle a cell phone call. Omaha Deputy Chief Mark Sundermeier was doing the same thing, and a uniformed Omaha police officer was also outside the chamber, apparently functioning as security.

A gentleman came gliding up the escalator that all three of us recognized. He is a prolific thief, who specializes in smash-and-grab crimes like these. Although he is an Omaha resident, he has been arrested in Lincoln on several past occasions, and we always consider him when we have an outbreak of these offenses. For the benefit of the police employees who read The Chief's Corner, his initials are JCJ. I actually carry around a bulletin about him on my laptop and cell phone. That's how I recognized him: from the photo--we've never met. He's better looking in person than his mug shot; a tall, rather elegantly dressed man, and he was arm-in-arm with his wife.

I greeted him by name at the top of the escalator. He had that look of feigned recognition, and introduced me to his wife. I explained who I was, and asked him if he had been stealing anything in Lincoln lately. He said he had not. I thanked him, and asked him if he would please not do so in the future, either. I thought it might be therapeutic for him to know that the Lincoln police chief recognizes him, knows about his M.O., and politely requested that he not ply his trade in my jurisdiction. I'm not sure, but I think my Omaha counterparts were a little taken aback by my direct and personal approach.

I encountered desperado number two yesterday afternoon. Among my more arcane duties is to serve on the board of appeals for peddlers permits and taxi licenses. If you are turned down, you can appeal to a three-member board. Since it's usually me who is denying the permit or license (well, not me personally, but my staff), it seems odd that I'm a voting member of the appeal board. In reality, though, I'm a pushover. If you can convince me that you really are trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow, I'm the one most likely to make the motion to grant your appeal despite the legal grounds for denying the permit application. I look at it like this: we're all better off if you are employed, so if I think you're not a genuine risk, I'd like to see you get the job.

Our subject arrived for his appeal hearing at the time and place appointed. That step alone trips up most of the appellants. We talked to him for a few minutes about his lengthy record of misdemeanor convictions. He made his pitch, and I asked him to wait in the lobby while we considered the matter. After a brief discussion, I made the motion to approve his permit and the vote was unanimous. I went out and told him I had good news and bad news: "The good news is that we've unanimously granted your appeal, and you can have your peddlers permit. The bad news is that you are under arrest."

I handcuffed him and walked him across the parking lot to book him into jail. He knew that he had failed to appear in court to settle a court-imposed fine back on June 16, but I don't think he expected that I would be aware of the outstanding arrest warrant. The 31 year-old holder of a new peddler's permit was waiting for his mom to bring $60 down to spring him from jail when I departed. He needs the job.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect Greybar Motel sting! Did you offer a new pair of Nike's for his new job? LOL

Whats interesting about your first story is that, you may recognize some that are on your red flag list but what about those who may have you on their red flag list. Does this ever bother you?

I mean really, you really dont know who may be watching!

Scanner Listener.

Tom Casady said...

Scanner listener:

You've been listening very closely over a very long time if you remember Graybar Athletic Footwear.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that you actually told him to stop stealing in Lincoln. I hope it works.

Anonymous said...

28 years ago I got hooked on the radio hobby!

And a bit of insight, the real bars were not grey but were actually a yellowish tan at the time that sting was played out.

It may have just been the nicotine that was leagle to use in the jail system back then but yes, I have been listening a long time.

Neat to hear all the unit numbers increase over the years. Weird to hear all the 1600 numbers now from the day when the highest you would hear was in the 400's.

I think it was around the time that the cars changed from black and white to blue and white that I really started to listen. I cant remember when that actually was though.

Scanner Listener.

Tom Casady said...

Scanner Listener-

Black to blue was 1977.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln used to have black and whites? Let's go back to that! I hated the blue and whites.

Tom Casady said...

6:53-

For about 45 years.

$$$

Anonymous said...

Chief I like the way you talk to them, but its not fair when somebody NW did the same and got wrote up for it.

Tom Casady said...

10:01-

I have no clue what you are talking about. I fail to see how my telling a multiple-convicted offender with a distinctive MO that I appreciate him not stealing stuff in Lincoln would be a problem. Nor do I see anything remotely inappropriate in the way I broke the bad news to the peddler permit applicant. Maybe I need to be sensitized. Care to enlighten me?

Anonymous said...

Aww yes the good ole. LTD 2. I dont think it was quite that early. Maybe a couple years after that. I do remember seeing the first one piece lightbar though.

Just checked the LPD history of cars, must have been the chevy nova or malibu as I know I was actively listening with more then one scanner when the diplomats came out.

Anyway a neat trip down memory lane...

Scanner Listener.

Anonymous said...

Chief, I don't want to bust your chops over this because I think you do a great job as Chief but 10:01 has a point. When I read your posting my first thought was "good for you chief" my second thought was "Wow if that was me and the thief complained there would be a write up." Probably for being discourteous to a citizen but possibly for violating the all encompassing Mission Statement. I'm not complaining, I have deserved every write up I have gotten. Being human and all. I do think I know what the situation was with the NW officer. It was a stretch for a write up but we all have our own behinds to cover.

Anonymous said...

3:01 pm:

I've read the LPD Mission Statement and I believe the Chief's remarks were spot on and didn't appear to deviate from the Mission Statement at all. In fact, that very brief conversation may have been a very successful POP project utilizing the SARA model!

Anonymous said...

It seems that around here if a citizen complains you get an automatic write up no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Next year, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, all desperadoes should be styled as scalawags for 24 hours.

Tom Casady said...

6:40-

You have no idea how often I personally talk to someone with a bogus complaint, and it goes no further. Like tonight, for instance. Ditto for IA, and (I'm sure) every supervisor on the department. Get real.

Anonymous said...

As I don't agree with 6:40 I do agree that some Captains write up some seriously bogus write ups that they either receive or dig up themselves. I would say that you could look in any Ofcs, Sgts, Capts, ACs, etc last 6 month's and find some type of issue with this. But your correct on calling a duck a duck and shielding many complaints that are bogus or nothing was wrong on how the call was handled. I don't think the Ofcs complaints were with you as much as a few captains. And it must really bother some frequent flyers that get called out in public. It really must weigh on them and hopefully helps them not fly again.