Monday, May 18, 2009

Rummaging through the inbox

We’ve got a new spam filter on our enterprise mail here at the police department. It lets users manage their own quarantined mail, and adjust their allowed/disallowed lists. Previously, your blocked email was just gone. It’s been interesting for me to see the huge volume of stuff that gets blocked from my incredibly-clogged-anyway inbox. I’ve also discovered just how many legitimate emails haven’t been getting through. It’s not huge, but it is nice to have the chance to retrieve those that would previously have been lost.

Boy, do I ever get the email. The volume is huge. But the inbox can serve as the source of blog posts when writer’s block strikes, or when time is short. Sometimes, an email message will just hit me as worth sharing, like this one from Friday:

“There is this lady who walks her dog by my house every night and she lets it use my yard and kids toys as a toilet. She never cleans up after her dog and then she puts out her cigarettes out in my grass? and leaves them there as well. Is there something i can do to make her stop or is there a law she’s breaking? If someone could email me back i would appreciate it.”

Here is my reply:

“Lincoln has a city ordinance (6.08.155) that requires you to pick up your dog poop. Flicking a cigarette butt is technically littering, as well. I suggest you politely tell her you would appreciate it if she and her dog would both stop littering in your yard. This really doesn't need to involve Animal Control or the Police Department, in my opinion. If you're not comfortable talking to her, print and highlight the sections from the ordinance, and mail it to her with no return address.”

Regards,

Tom Casady, Chief of Police

Is it really necessary for the police to be involved in every kind, type, and description of boorish behavior? Are we so estranged from one another that we can’t just politely ask, or are we really that afraid of our neighbors? Hopefully, that’s what this correspondent does.

18 comments:

Steve said...

Chief:

I agree there are many things people complain about to the police that hardly seem like police matters. In fact, many of the crime reports I get for my neighborhood are just such incidents. However, I can understand the uncertainty one might feel about some of these things, including the incident in question.

First off, the person just wanted to know if a law was being broken. You'd think people would know these things. I can tell you from experience that many, if not most people have no idea what our laws really say, or mean. For example, the public school I often walk past with my dogs posted signs around the property asking people to clean up after their dogs which said "as per city ordinance" (or something along those lines). This was at least a couple of years before we had a city ordinance against not cleaning up after your dog. The principlal of the school swore up and down (not with foul language) in an email to me that we did indeed have such an ordinance. When I begged to differ, she finally looked into the matter and realized she was wrong.

Most people know "right from wrong", but that seldom has much to do with the law, or the way it's written.

More later (got to go to work).

JIM J said...

This weekend the neighbors car alarm went off. About the same time as the home invasion several blocks from here.
My resident security officer canine Opal, gave me a two woof woof signal about 20 minutes prior to the car alarm.
After talking with a few neighbors on Sunday, we now know that nine cars were the victims of a phantom shopper. Most did not call the police as they are smart to know that once the person is gone, they are gone. Opal gave us warning, as well as the letting the car shopper know Opal was on watch. The car alarm blasting was a clue also. Not much poop in this story, but dogs have other good qualities as well. The neighbors refer to me as "the neighborhood watch guy"
The next time we will have better luck. Thanks for the drive by. The dark lots around here are good pickings, a yard light is great!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I think if people could just go and talk to their neighbors about their problems the world would be a better place.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I would have to agree to the point most do not know the laws. What I see in this typers email is the lack of wanting to be in conflict.
I think it is natural for persons to avoid conflict. If there is an outlet such as the police department or animal control then all is well. The dumping of our personal problems onto an organization who can step in with the needed coping skills make up for those who have little. In this case I believe our typer is acting natural and does not possess the needed tools to cope with their dilemma.
I see why our cops can get frustrated when their calls go from bizaar to dangerous to mundane.

Go in peace and may your life's lawn never be covered in poo.

LoupGarou said...

Just being a devil's advocate here...

Who enforces the ordinances if the police won't? Do we just have them to make someone "feel" good, or to give a politician something to tout when it comes to re-election time?

It gets frustrating when you try to enlighten people about the laws and they just rebut with "Yea, like the police will bother with something like that."

Obviously this can turn into a full fledged debate.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I would hope someone would call me and not bother the police if my dog pooped in the yard.

Anonymous said...

I recently went to talk to my neighbor about her dog- while the dog's poop wasn't in my yard, she lets it build up against our shared chain link fence for weeks, making it so I can't go in my own backyard because of the smell. I also mentioned it would be nice if she took her dog in after 11:00 PM or so, as I had been woken by the dog several times. She insisted there was "nothing she could do" about the poop, and that her dog was NEVER, EVER EVER outside after 10:30. She was also pretty rude.

However, since then, the dog has been inside a bit more, and I think the poop is cleaned a bit more often, so I think it may have done some good anyway.

Grundle King said...

The Chief posted a link to a previous post regarding Jim Carrey's "The Truman Show"...so in the same vein, I propose a tactic used by Jim Carrey in "Me, Myself, and Irene"...

...if the dog keeps crapping in your yard, you go crap in her yard. If she insists on tossing cigarette butts in your yard...go downtown and hit up the sidewalk-sweeper for the trash accumulated over the weekend (which is sure to be FILLED with cigarette butts) and dump it in her yard.

If you are uncomfortable with the thought of crapping in her yard...then collect all of her dog's droppings for a couple of months, then knock on the door, wait til she comes out, and dump it in her grass. When she asks what you're doing, tell her you're just returning some things to the rightful owner.

Anonymous said...

Without knowing the neighbors involved, I can't really say if they are stable people that would be enlightened by a polite rebuke, or unstable wacko thugs (or thuggettes) with a hair-trigger temper. Consider how some unstable types handle a fender-bender dispute.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to our neighbors about walking their dogs to our yard to poop. They were very nice as they explained how much better the dogs liked our yard than theirs. The issue was finally resolved although they were never nice to us again. Fine with me!!

Grundle King said...

It's somewhat unfortunate that LMC 9.24.110 exists...it would probably keep a lot of late-night burglars, as well as errant pets, from entering one's property. Nothing says "No Trespassing" quite like a little 110v AC.

Steve said...

6:20

I was getting to that point, but had to run off to work. Though it isn't clear from the email, I suspect you're right about wanting to avoid controversy. However, this person may have just wanted clarification of the law before he/she confronted the offender in case things went beyond the chief's suggestion.

I'm quite sure many, many people are too shy, or do fear the consequences of speaking up about these sorts of things. Though I seldom hold back in similar circumstances, I often worry that someone will retaliate against my questioning of their behavior, regardless of how polite I try to be about it. I'm not always polite about it, but I don't resort to violence or threats, either. I figure most people already know they are doing something wrong, and they are just demonstrating their lack of respect for the law, or their fellow man. That being the case, they don't deserve my respect in return. Still, unless it is something of a serious, or malicious nature, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, if I do speak up to someone in an instance such as this, what happens if that person goes home and sends their 6'6", 275 pound son/husband/brother/boyfriend back over to put me in my place? Or, they come around after dark and slash my tires, or poison my dog?

Though I tend to agree with the chief on this, I don't think we should ignore calls from the public to respond to these things, at least if any law has actually been violated. There are probably hundreds of cases where someone spoke up against something of this nature, and it escalated into something much more serious. Better that the police come out and handle it in the first place. Besides, who is more likely to get a positive response to a polite request to be respectful and observe the law, some little old lady, or a police officer? Also, It's not clear if the offender was even known by the victim, so sending a letter may not have been an option.

Anonymous said...

It goes with the sign of the times. No one sits on porches anymore - which would stop that kind of behavior - as well as a lot of other stuff.

No one feels like they can yell at little Jimmy when he's doing something wrong / dangerous - cause he's not your kid.

Instead we build houses w/ privacy fences, no front porches, but huge back decks or patios, and b*tch when a neighbor (whose name we probably don't know) behaves as described.

Anonymous said...

When my father sees someone allowing their dog poop in his yard, he goes out with a paper towel and a plastic bag and hands it to the owner and tells them he doesn't crap in their yard and asks them to clean it up. Most of them say they were going to anyway.

Anonymous said...

What if its not just your next door neighbor. I live across from the Nebraska Regional Center and everyday at shift change when the oncoming shift shows up, the last thing they do is flick their cigarette butts into my yard before they make the turn into the parking area. My yard ends up looking like an ashtray. It must be a state employee thing, whether its the regional center workers or the employees from the State Treasurers Office and CID that work at the old police department on 10th street, they feel the need to use the sidewalks and the streets as their own personal ashtray.

Anonymous said...

My neighbor's dog sheds when it walks in front of my house, the hair then blows into my yard. is this a crime?

Tom Casady said...

11:10-

Only if I can report my hair as lost or stolen.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

You could always report it, but it's uncertain if it would it be classified as a series of misdemeanors, or aggregated into one felony.