LETTER TO THE EDITOR
June 27, 2003
Ellenville, New York
To the Editor:
A few years ago, there were a spate of articles in various newspapers about New York City as well as smaller cities and even villages whose police departments made it a practice to downplay their reports and blotter entries lower the degree of seriousness of the incident so that the region's statistics showed improvement (less) of crime statistics.
On Tuesday, June 18th at 8:00 p.m. a tenant finally got around to handing me an envelope containing, I hoped, part of the back due May and June rent that they'd promised to pay last Friday, June 13th. She thrust the envelope at me saying she had to rush right back because she left her father hanging on the phone. I said, "Just a second; I have something to show you, it'll take just a second." She begrudgingly walked another five feet into my office. She handed me the envelope. I took it. Then I showed her a list I'd just made up of the dates they made promises to make back rent payments but then reneged in one way or another. (There's a $5 penalty fee added to rent far each reneged promise. Our lease explains why: Not only can't you put promises in the bank; promises won't pay oil, water/sewer, or tax bills. In addition, after three broken promises, item No, 20 in our lease adds a manager's fee of S25 to help defray all the additional administrative time, effort, and focus that the property manager is forced into to keep track of the promises, waiting time for tenant to come then not come over and over again, cancelled other appointment, etc. She knew of this.
For whatever reason she may have had in her mind, she lunged over me while I was at my desk, grabbed the envelope that I'd half opened and tried to yank the whole thing out of my hands. I'm over 60 but having been a gymnast and basketball player and downhill skier my reaction time is still good enough that I managed to retain the envelope but not the double-folded,8-1/2 x 11 paper that enclosed cash. She only got hold of one corner of the 8-1/2 x 11 so the late-rent-payment cash fell to the floor and she ended up only with the paper.
Considering this a serious enough incident not to let go by there was physical contact during the scuffle as well as what the police later said was larcenous intent (I had full possession of the envelope she'd handed me before she tried to forcibly yank it back), I called police for a car and officer for purpose of either an incident report or a blotter entry. Choosing the one with the least consequence for the tenant, I asked for only a blotter entry that would have no repercussion of any kind for the tenant but would serve as a documented record should anything of similar nature be attempted in future.
Disappointingly when I stopped by the police stationhouse to verify what had been written into the blotter entry, the police chain of communication (me to police officer who came to the scene to police dispatcher to blotter entry) resulted in (paraphrase): "Landlord tenant dispute. Tenant grabbed letter out of landlord's hands."
It took me a while, quite a while, including calling a lieutenant and a detective out of the field into the stationhouse to convince them the gravamen (crucial point of a complaint) had been left out: that an attempt had been made to forcibly take over $400 out of my hands. This was the intentional downplaying of criminal statistics as it still lives today.
Paul T. Johnson
Ellenville & NYC