Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

Service of Citizen’s Arrest

Thursday, January 25th, 2018


I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said out loud, sometimes to no one in particular “I wish I could make a citizen’s arrest!” When I told my husband the subject of this post he suggested I check out just what this would entail, “because,” he added, “everyone uses that expression and they may not know.”

So a quick detour before I share my targets. According to, in a Breaches of the Peace section: “In general, people can’t use citizen’s arrests for misdemeanors unless the misdemeanor involves a breach of the peace. Even in these circumstances, however, individuals can only make arrests when they have personally witnessed the criminal behavior and the breach has just occurred or there is a strong likelihood that the breach will continue.”

Photo: youtube

In its conclusion: “Every individual is empowered to arrest wrongdoers in certain circumstances, but individuals looking to make a citizens arrest act at their own risk. Not only is the act of apprehending a criminal inherently dangerous, but failure to meet the legal requirements for a citizens arrest could have devastating consequences for the person making the arrest.”

I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation. It’s helpful to let off steam once in a while in a benign way and not make life miserable for others as some of my fellow citizens are prone to do.


The most recent affront that awoke the policewoman in me was made by a delivery truck driver for a well known brand who leaned on his horn when there was nothing the vehicles in front of him could do to move out of his way. Nobody was walking in front of him; no car was cutting him off, yet he polluted the air and turned the time we all shared with him on that street into earsplitting misery.

Joining him on my hit list are the

***selfish subway passengers who won’t let me either in or out of a train

***bicyclists who miss me by a hair when they are driving in the wrong direction, zooming past me against the light or whisking past me on the sidewalk

***impatient drivers who ignore oncoming pedestrian traffic and swerve into avenue or street while endangering all those crossing an avenue

***bus drivers who use their airbrakes with abandon even when they know incoming passengers, some frail, aren’t yet holding on or settled in seats. Note: In some busses it’s quite a distance between the MetroCard fare collecting machine and strap or seat.

***drivers who won’t pull over and stop for an ambulance to pass: Don’t they realize their sister, mother, child, spouse or nephew might one day be inside?

An arrest for the following infractions would be too harsh—maybe I’d just give a warning for

***people who bump into me and don’t apologize

***elevator passengers who let the door slam in my face or who don’t offer to hit my floor when my hands are full

Are there infractions or violations to living in crowded places in a civilized way that you would hit with a citizen’s arrest or warning if you could?


Service of a Good Appetite: Some People Will Eat No Matter Where or When

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

half eaten apple

When stressed, nervous or sad I find it hard to eat. Everything gets stuck in my throat and I’m not hungry. That’s why my eye caught Michael Wilson’s “Crime Scene” column in The New York Times, “Some Home Burglars Want a Quick Getaway. Others Need a Nosh.”

Regardless, were I in someone’s apartment stealing from them I wouldn’t hesitate for any reason, much less grab a bite. Yet, according to Wilson, this nibbling while on a burglary job is nothing new. The paper wrote about a general’s widow in Poughkeepsie who, in 1886 lost 100 pieces of flatware to robbers who then “went down to the kitchen and brought upstairs to the parlor cooked meats, bread, cake, eggs and milk, and partook of the banquet there and then.”

Wilson reported that the city’s DNA laboratory tests half eated chocolate cakeanything that “can link a suspect to a crime.” He continued, “This is a story about a small and bizarre subset of those objects” some of which include, according to the medical examiner’s office, a “partially eaten apple” as well as “Sunflower seed shells. Half-eaten chocolate cake. Chewed gum…half-eaten biscuit…Chicken bones. Chicken wing. Pizza crust. Fruit pit.” Later in the article Wilson referenced candy wrappers, a lollipop and a bagel.

Police textbooks cover the subject and Brooklyn Detective Anthony Barbee told Wilson “One of the questions we always ask people, ‘Look in your refrigerator. Is there anything open?’” Barbee added that some “make themselves at home. They get comfortable.”

I wasn’t as surprised about those whom Wilson reported took the food or beverage with them. I’d consider that part of the burglary—not an example of eat and run–and not unusual. He wrote about one burglar who took watches and electronics and in a note he left behind he thanked the homeowner for the OJ.

half eaten pizza crustA retired detective, Steve Panagopoulos, told Wilson that the food burglars are junkies. Now that makes sense—though I’m not sure that this would apply to the burglars in the 19th century Poughkeepsie example. “‘They don’t really even care about getting caught. Taking their time, sitting there opening refrigerators, that’s pretty crazy.’ That sort of behavior was the undoing of one serial thief he remembered. ‘He had taken out a thing of cheese, crackers,’ Mr. Panagopoulos said. ‘He left them behind on the table. That was processed for DNA.’”

Can you imagine stopping to snack while doing something illegal and dangerous–when time is of the essence–or do you lean in the direction of Detective Panagopoulos who attributed such behavior, these days in any case, to the conduct of junkies?

chicken bones


Service of Robocall Follow-ups

Thursday, March 24th, 2016


Our phone at the house is set to ring five times before the voicemail kicks in so on last Friday night we heard only half of a robocall that came in on Wednesday. 

It was a woman’s voice calling for the New York State Police. She shared a phone number we were to use if we saw a 68 year old Hispanic black man with an Afro coming from the direction of Stanford, NY. He was wearing jeans and a jacket. We missed any details, such as why we should report seeing him.

NY State PoliceI called a friend who lives nearby. She hadn’t heard about this. At the transfer station Saturday morning, the attendants said the man had been found–but they were wrong. 

My next stop was the library to check on the news. Bobby Welber in the Hudson Valley Post  had updated his previous story a few minutes before. He wrote that the search had moved from the Hudson Valley to NYC. “State Police have concluded their search in the Hudson Valley for the missing 68-year-old schizophrenic Dutchess County Man.” It was around 1 pm on March 19.

Welber went on: “Edward E. Lopez was last seen before 5:00 p.m. on March 14, 2016 at the Lakeview Chateau Community Residence located on W. Hunns Lake Road in the Town of Stanford. It is believed he left the residence on foot.” That is some five miles from our house. 

Neither Welber nor Nina Schutzman in her article in the Poughkeepsie Journal described what kind of facility he lived in nor whether he was dangerous. I tried finding out to no avail. The librarian on duty told me she lived in Stanford, but because she doesn’t have a landline, she never received the police robocall.

search for missing personThe upstate search party had pulled out all the stops in helping the NY State Police. Welber listed eight agencies from Forest Rangers to NYC and MTA Police in addition to nine volunteer search and rescue teams from around the tri-state area. 

Around 5:30 pm I stopped at the local NY State Police office. I asked a trooper for an update. He told me “it’s over,” that they’d found Lopez in NYC. I asked if there was going to be another robocall with this update. He looked at me as though I was stupid and replied, “Why? It was on the news.” [Clearly, I’d missed it. Was I alone?] I asked him what he knew about the facility from which Lopez had escaped. He said he didn’t know. 

Isn’t technology grand? The police can alert neighbors about a crisis with the flip of a switch but it doesn’t occur to anyone to flip it one more time to let folks know the crisis is over. In addition, nobody anticipated that part of a robocall message could be lost depending on the setting controlling when a voice message system kicks in. And what about alerting local residents who use mobile phones exclusively–aren’t they worth contacting? Have you come across similar situations in which people with access to technology haven’t thought through what they’re doing and how best to use it?

Police tape


Service of Passivity

Monday, May 20th, 2013


I ran an errand in Grand Central Station last week and on my way in I noticed two suitcases leaning against a wall near the door to the food court. They were still there on my exit.

At first I figured a tourist must be on the curb flagging a taxi, [most New Yorkers wouldn’t dare leave suitcases unattended like that for fear of theft], but this person would have been long gone in the four or so minutes it took for me to buy bread and walk outside.

The picture above was the first one I took on my phone and as the cases were hiding behind the young woman in the shot, I took another one which clearly showed the cases and nobody near them. The camera was full so I couldn’t save that image but it was evident on my phone’s screen when I showed it to a policeman in the station’s office downstairs. By the time I emerged three police officers were standing around the cases.

Was I the only one reporting the situation? I didn’t see anyone in the police office and the young woman in the photo, like countless others on this busy midtown street, didn’t notice them.

I described the incident to a few friends. One, Martha Takayama, urged me to draft a post about it. She wrote: “It is a shocking commentary on our indifference to the realities of today’s world! What an arrogant attitude! How can we possibly, as a nation or a people, confront our social and political problems if we continue to be so turned in! Boston is still reeling and will be forever from the bombing.”

The admonition, “When you see something, say something,” seems to have been around for ages. Loudspeakers at Grand Central and in the subway chant the message for those who might forget. Don’t we hear it anymore? Why do you think the message isn’t sinking in, just one month after the Boston Marathon bombings? What might do the trick?



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