LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
July 25, 2003
Ellenville, New York
To the Editor;
Every once in a while I point out to my neighbor tenants the litter they put on my side of the property line when they are working on their cars in their driveway car parts, beer bottles, bags etc. and ask them to please clean it up when it kind of piles up too noticeably so (about 2-4 times a year).
Today, June 28th, two of the early 20-year-old siblings washing their new Eclipse got ornery and not only balked but exhibited resentment verging upon belligerence (open hostility). When I took pieces of their debris, litter, beer bottles, replaced car parts off my lawn and put them into their driveway they went so far as to throw them back onto my lawn. I told them I would call the police; they remained obdurate.
I called police who have asked me not to try to resolve landlord-tenant incidents of this nature myself, so no matter how seeming inconsequential, but to call them. An officer in a car arrived in about 5-10 minutes, late afternoon.
He dialogued with both sides (to their credit the boys did not absent themselves when I left to call the police as I said I would), noted the evidence (between 25 to 50 items) and when I asked only for a blotter entry, he said the dispatcher already entered one.
Puzzled at how a dispatcher could possibly have written a blotter entry without having yet been told by anyone other than myself what happened the patrol-car police officer was still at the scene questioning the boys I asked him how the dispatcher could possibly have written a blotter entry without having heard back from him himself. He replied that she wrote it up on the basis of only what I'd called in: "neighbor throwing litter on my lawn."
Later I called the dispatcher and asked her- to read back the blotter entry. She'd written, "Owner of property (A) throwing litter (across property line) onto property (B) of complainant."
This being a very seriously and egregiously (glaringly bad) error that could possibly have bogus repercussions down the line, I asked from where it was she got it that it was the "owner" of property (A) who was throwing litter over onto the neighbor's yard (?). She nonchalantly replied, "I assumed it."
I told her she assumed wrong and as a result the blotter entry should be corrected; that since I myself was the owner of property (A) whose tenant's children (young men in 20s) were the ones throwing litter over across onto the adjacent property that happened also to be owned by me, the entry was mistakenly slanting that I was throwing litter over a property line onto my property [sic].
Very inappropriately the dispatcher took my asking that the entry be corrected personally; Like I was criticizing her work, refused to make the correction, and hung up on me when, in a completely civil, respectful and objective and dispassionate tone of voice I told her "As it stands, the blotter entry is wrong."
I know how many people are too sensitive to being corrected when they are performing a job function they are being paid for and stubbornly refuse to stand corrected, entering a rebuking state of denial even when, or rather especially when, they realize they did make an error that should be corrected. But I really didn't expect such an intense reaction on the part of a person who must have had at least some rudimentary training as not only how important it is to be objective and unbiased but to control their own overreacting personal defenses when they function as a police person.
I can only hope that the officer who came to the scene and the dispatcher somehow communicated enough to have gotten the blotter entry corrected.
I can only stand so much negativity and abuse (besides hanging up on me her voice became brazenly hostile and mean spirited) so I myself dropped the effort to assure a correction was made.
I waited a few minutes and dialed police stationhouse again hoping she'd calmed down enough to have become cogent enough to comprehend a corrected description of the incident but no one picked up the phone after over 10 (ten) rings! (What if it'd been someone else calling in?)
I waited some more and she picked up the phone and think I may have gotten across to her a corrected description but remnant hostility kept her from acknowledging whether or not she would make the correction.
When police type up incident reports they should be very carefully proofread by the complainant because, police being human, their writeups may and do contain errors of facts or in formulating the English language's complex syntax that could hurt someone unwarrantedly down the line in court.
And even if the police person becomes extremely defensive, exhibiting hostility and denial to the extent of refusing to stand corrected, complainant should figure out how to couch the correction more gently and cordially and civilly and, in addition, wait for more time to pass, possibly, to get the correction made not to throw up one's hands in dismay and give up in the face of the force of intimidation a police uniform presents even when the wearer of it is acting irrational. The stresses of a police person's activities make the best of them occasionally break. (The uniform may be even more intimidating to the person wearing it, causing the officer to go over the line once in a while).
Paul T. Johnson
Ellenville and NYC